It was only very recently that shared parental leave became an option. Before, women took their maternity leave – this must be at least two weeks after the birth, but could be up to a year and could start from the 11th week before the baby is due. While entitled to 52 weeks, maternity pay is only available for 39 of them, if eligible.
Men, on the other hand, only got one or two weeks. This couldn’t start before the birth and had to have been taken within 56 days of the birth.
The new parental leave means mum and dad can share up to 50 weeks parental leave and 37 weeks pay. This came into force to allow men and women equal opportunities both at home and work – putting the decision of how and where they spent the time, in their hands.
However, a new study has revealed that just 1% of men have taken up this opportunity since it became an option a year ago.
If you are trying to whether to take advantage of shared parental leave – first check out Money Advice Service to see if you are eligible – then read these pro’s and con’s to see if it is right for you:
Pro: You can both bond with your new baby
While women are spending 24/7 with their new baby, men could be out of the house for more than 9 hours a day. During this time mum is bonding with the baby and dad isn’t. Splitting the time means men get as much chance to bond with their new baby as mum does. Plus, you both get to witness those special first moments – which you can’t get back.
Con: You could lose out financially
You will receive 90% of your average weekly earnings or £139.58 a week – depending which is lowest. If the partner on the lowest salary goes back to work and the one on the higher salary stays at home, you will lose out financially.
If you are in a position to do this – great! However, having a baby is expensive and you may find that you can’t afford to take advantage of shared parental leave.
Pro: Women can smash through the glass ceiling
It has been an ongoing argument that women are unfairly treated in the workplace and miss out on promotion due to the fact that they will, likely, at some point, have a baby.
In fact a recent report found that the number of expectant mothers who were forced to leave their jobs due to their pregnancy, has doubled in the past decade.
However, hopefully, with men now being in the same position as women when it comes to having a baby – in terms of taking time of work – perhaps this number will start to decrease.
With the option for women to return to work and men to stay at home, women have a much better chance of progressing and eventually smashing through that glass ceiling.
Con: it could cause tension and arguments
Perhaps you both want to spend the majority of the time at work or neither of you want to go back to work – choosing instead to spend time with your new bundle of joy.
This could cause tension and arguments as you try to agree on the best way to split the time.
Pro: you can share responsibilities
Men may be at work bringing in the money, but women are raising your child while doing the majority of the chores around the house. By splitting the time you can share all the responsibilities equally. You will also have a better sense of what it is like to be in each other’s shoes – strengthening the bond between the two of you, as well as with the baby.