Watchdog findings have this week suggested that problems in business could be reduced if flexible jobs were more readily advertised. The equality watchdog advises that if flexible working were more available this could positively impact on the pay gap and on fathers who would have more support when taking time off to care for children. This follows findings by People Management which revealed only 7,100 men received shared parental pay in 2016-17. So how can HR help remedy this issue and what are the practical steps to take?
Potentially the biggest reason for poor take up on shared parental leave is the financial implication it has for families. As it stands, the current rate a mother or father will be paid is £139.58 a week. If employers offer pay which is closer to a normal wage and larger than the legal minimum statutory payment the practicalities of taking leave could become much simpler and provide greater options to families who may otherwise be limited by whichever parent has the larger salary.
Taking the opportunity for shared parental leave lies heavily in how aware people are of the scheme and how forthcoming businesses are in encouraging its use. Consider how open your business is with information on taking shared leave and how accessible it is. Display encouragement of the scheme on the company intranet, induction packs for new employees and in a company-wide email so that it is common knowledge going forward.
For those who do take up the scheme their return to work is a crucial time. It is during this period that the business must accommodate the time they have had off and reduce any stress which comes with returning. All parents deserve a reliable return to work which ensures they know what they are doing and are welcomed back into their role with a full handover and company update. If you can achieve this you will define a supportive culture which reassures future parents that it is a positive opportunity and won’t result in additional complications at work if they take it.