In 2015, the UK government introduced Shared Parental Leave (SPL), a measure to encourage more equal parenting. It enabled mothers to transfer up to 50 of their 52 weeks of Maternity leave, and some of the associated benefit, to fathers.
A government evaluation began in 2018, but has yet to deliver. It is clear, though, that SPL has not worked. A minister, in 2017, told the House of Commons’ Women & Equalities Committee that she ‘would regard anything over 20% [take up] as very encouraging’. A new analysis by Maternity Action comes up with the discouraging news that in 2021/22, ‘take-up among an assumed 285,000 eligible fathers was just 2.8%…just 8,100 fathers’. Just 0.66% of total public expenditure on Maternity and Paternity leave went on SPL.
Experience from countries with more successful leave policies provides pointers to what has gone wrong. That experience is available in the recently published 18th annual international review on leave policies, produced by a network of experts led by Professor Alison Koslowski, director
of UCL’s Thomas Coram Research Unit. The review brings together details of parenting leaves and other support for employed parents in 49 (more…)