Top 5 considerations before taking Shared Parental Leave – from those who have just done it

This week’s blog has been written by Alice Pilbeam-Brown, a qualified coach and parent, who spoke with some families who have recently used Shared Parental Leave.

Dads taking extended periods of leave can be incredibly beneficial for families with new babies; shifting traditional family set ups and getting women back into work, should they want to. However, there is a lot to consider before organising SPL with your employer. The families I spoke to recommend considering the following 5 things:

  1. Together or separately?

One family shared their entitled 50 weeks at the same time allowing them 25 weeks together with their new baby. Of course there were some cost implications they had to consider but they were extremely careful with their finances and even enjoyed a holiday together in that 6 months! However, others have tended to split it 50/50 with mum taking the first 25 weeks and dad the second.

  1. When and for how long?

One family I spoke with decided to take 2 weeks off together before their baby was due, and dad went back to work a month later. This was to allow themselves time to prepare and enjoy a few more outings without baby in tow!

  1. Finances

Despite being entitled to 50 weeks, statutory SPL will only pay for 37 weeks, although all companies are different and may offer enhanced SPL. It’s worth understanding the policies at both parents companies to realise what split would be more financially beneficial.

  1. Role modelling

This was really important for a family I spoke with. Having an older son when pregnant with her second, Edith was keen that he see both parents take on home and caring responsibilities as well as go out to work. As she wanted to breastfeed for 6 months, Edith took the first 24 weeks, setting the standard of what should be done in that role, and her husband took the remaining.

  1. Notice to employer

Keep the conversation open early on! This was what all the families said was key to success. Although it’s been around for over 3 years in the UK, few families have taken advantage of it, so it can feel quite complicated for some employers. The sooner you start the conversation, the more likely it will be a success.

If you’d like to read more about Shared Parental Leave – especially at an organisational level – see Our blog here.

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