Firms still failing to tell dads about Shared Parental Leave

New research finds only a quarter of firms tell the dads in their workforce about the option to take Shared Parental Leave

why men not taking shared parental leave


New dads are not being offered information about their paternity leave options.

New research has revealed just a quarter of companies provide details of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) without it being requested first. With SPL take up still low it’s been suggested that dads are not being made aware of their entitlement.

The research was commissioned by meeting provider PowWowNow. The firm also submitted a series of Freedom of Information requests in an effort to understand the level of SPL take up. They estimate around 4% of couples claimed Shared Parental Pay in 2018/19. However other research has suggested up to 10% of parents uses SPL.


SPL was introduced in 2015 to allow parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay between them following the birth of a child. It is designed to allow couples to split child-caring roles more equally. Uptake of SPL remains low.

The data suggests workplace culture is also resistant to fathers taking time to care for their child. 13% of dads did not feel comfortable asking their employer for SP. Less than half of workers strongly felt their employer was supportive when they did apply for the initiative. Three quarters of fathers said they believe there remains a cultural stigma around men taking time off to look after their children.

When returning to work, three quarters of men (75.3%) felt pressured to come back to the workplace quickly after taking SPL. The biggest pressures coming from financial circumstances (32%). However dads also cited pressure from an employer (31%) and work culture (28%).


The benefits from father’s involvement in childcare are clear from the data; of those fathers who did take SPL:

  • 96% reported a positive longer-term impact on their lives resulting from the experience
  • 43% had a greater involvement in the care of their children going forwards
  • 44% had improvements in their relationship with their partner
  • 46% reported a better quality of family life
  • 41% said they had improved life satisfaction

Crucial role

Andrew Johnson, MD of PowWowNow, commented on the findings. He said, “Businesses have a crucial role to play in empowering fathers to be able to take care of their children. With a clear shift in cultural perceptions of gender roles in parenting, leaders need to ensure that processes and policies support fathers who make the decision to start a family.

“At PowWowNow, we have made a pledge to inform our employees of their right to request SPL. And we call on other businesses to do the same. Meanwhile, workplaces must introduce family-friendly policies and flexible working practices. Fathers who are better able to balance work and life commitments will be happier and more productive members of the office.”

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