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Take up of shared parental leave understated

Recent press reports have claimed the take-up of shared parental leave by new parents could be as low as one per cent.

But it turns out this is not the whole story. The figure given in the press was based on only part of a research exercise conducted by My Family Care and the Women’s Business Council.

The two organisations surveyed more than 1,000 individuals and 200 HR directors. The one per cent figure which has gained traction in the press relates only to the responses from the 200 HR directors surveyed. These responses referred only to men, who were not necessarily new parents.

The one per cent figure did not take into account to the responses from the 1,000 individuals who were also surveyed. This paints a drastically different picture. 10 per cent of the employees surveyed were new parents or had adopted a child in the past 12 months. From this group, 24 per cent of women and 30 per cent of men said they had taken shared parental leave.

The findings of this survey are backed up by the findings of a similar survey of 628 people by Totaljobs. This found that 86 respondents were new parents of whom 31 per cent said they are using or had used their right to shared parental leave while 48 per cent did not use their right and 21 per cent said they were ineligible.

While the sample size is small and it may be too early to get an accurate picture of the uptake of shared parental leave, it is clear the real figure is much higher than many press reports have suggested.

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