In its “Good Work” response to the 2017 Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, the government stated that, as part of its commitment to raising awareness of employment rights, it was to instigate a campaign to encourage more working parents to take shared parental leave (SPL) in their baby’s first year. That campaign, called “Share the joy”, has now been launched. Its intention is to improve working parents’ awareness of their SPL entitlement and it will do this through advertising on social media, digital websites, at train stations and on commuter routes. There will also be a new website providing detailed information and guidance. The government is to spend £1.5 million on the campaign.
SPL, which was introduced in 2015 to give greater childcare flexibility for working parents in the first year after their baby is born, enables eligible parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby, taking leave in up to three separate blocks or sharing the time to have up to six months off together.
The government has additionally published guidance and tools designed to help working parents check if they are eligible for SPL and to plan their SPL and give the correct information to their employer. It includes a brief fact sheet providing an overview of the SPL and statutory shared parental pay schemes and a more detailed parents’ guide for parents who are considering taking SPL, including answers to specific questions that some parents have on the scheme. Finally, the tools include eligibility checklists for both birth and adoptive parents, quick date checkers, planners and model notices and declarations for parents to give to their employers.
Research suggests that around 285,000 couples are eligible to take SPL every year, but that take up could be as low as 2% and that around half of the general public are unaware that the option even exists.