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Shared parental leave could help close the gender pay gap

The take up of shared parental leave is as low as two percent, of qualifying families, and employees need to be alerted to this option, says HR software provider Activ Absence.


A new government campaign ‘Share the Joy’ is seeking to encourage more parents to take up the offer of shared parental leave in their baby’s first year, after finding half the population are unaware the option exists.


The campaign is part of the government’s commitment to raise awareness of employment rights, in a drive to boost job satisfaction and productivity as part of the modern Industrial Strategy and Good Work plan.


The parental leave legislation came into force in April 2015 and allows eligible parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby. They can take time off separately or they can be at home together for up to six months.


Speaking on the ‘Share the Joy’ campaign, Minister for Women Victoria Atkins, said: “This government is determined to tackle and ultimately close the gender pay gap. To do this, we need to support women to fulfil their potential in the workplace – and giving women the choice to share childcare with their partners is crucial to that effort.”


Adrian Lewis, commercial director at Activ Absence, said the low take up of the legislation could be a result of companies not having the right systems in place to manage shared paternity well.


Lewis said: “One of the barriers can be that the employer hasn’t put systems in place to make this a workable option, and therefore isn’t promoting it. If more men did decide to take the shared paternity leave they are entitled to - some companies would struggle to cope with the practicalities of managing this.”


He said absence management software could be a system introduced to resolve this issue. The software can manage any kind of absence; including sickness, holidays or even dental appointments, as well as helping facilitate flexible working practices.


Lewis added: “Having up to date information of where people are at any one time enables businesses to manage shared parental leave effectively and confidently plan ahead in terms of strategy, projects and resources.”

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