In this report, we explore current practice in relation to supporting working parents, and what provisions organisations provide around parental leave. We last explored this subject in 2016 and our findings show that not much has changed or progressed since.

To improve the situation, we are calling on the UK Government to enhance the statutory paternity/partner provision to six weeks at or near the full rate of pay. We also suggest that affordable childcare should be provided from the end of maternity leave to enable parents, and particularly mothers, to return to work more quickly if they choose to.

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Employer focus on working parents

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Key findings

  • Take-up of shared parental leave continues to be very low. Recent estimates suggest that just 2% of eligible couples made use of shared parental leave last year.
  • Most organisations (49%) have a paternity or partner leave policy, but it only provides the statutory minimum leave entitlement and around a third provide the statutory minimum paternity/partner pay.
  • Shared parental leave in its current form isn’t working. A more effective way of starting to equalise parental leave and pay is to ring-fence paid paternity/partner leave.
  • Almost half (46%) of organisations said they would support extending statutory paternity leave and pay.
  • Organisations don’t need to wait for government change in this area, but can start to enhance their parental policies where they are able to do so.
  • Over a third (34%) of employers report that the introduction of 30 hours free childcare per week for all 3-4 year olds in England in 2017 has made a positive impact on the number of women returning to work.
  • Over half (56%) of employers believe the participation rate of women with young children would improve further if the same level of free childcare support was extended to all children aged 0-2 as well as 3-4. We are calling on the UK Government to reform the current childcare/early years education provision to mandate this.

CIPD recommendations

The UK Government should:
  • enhance the statutory paternity/partner provision to six weeks at or near the full rate of pay, to help deliver more balance and choice over the distribution of caring responsibilities and better reflect the changing nature of modern families
  • provide affordable childcare from the end of maternity leave to enable parents and often mothers to return to work more quickly if they choose to
  • make the right to request flexible working a right from day one of employment. We also call on the UK Government to reconsider the stipulation that employees can only make a request every 12 months.

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