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Today marks the start of the new regime of shared parental leave – couples can now start applying to their respective employers to split parental leave between them (for children born on or after 5 April 2015).

It’s interesting to see the differing views in the press about likely take-up.  Anecdotally at least, there seems to be a healthy amount of interest but undoubtedly much will depend on employers’ policies on enhancing pay during leave periods for fathers in the same way they do for mothers.

It’s the public sector that we’ll be looking towards to lead the culture change in the brave new world.  You’d expect the state to put its money where its mouth is and the Civil Service has already announced its intention to offer enhanced shared parental leave pay to fathers as well as mothers.  The cultural change may well be slow but the more that sharing leave is seen as the norm, the fewer examples we’ll see (as I have seen) of fathers being ridiculed for wanting to take leave and/or being pressurised not to take even the 2 weeks they’ve long been entitled to.  And as a final thought, one further by-product of encouraging fathers to take time off and allowing mothers back to work sooner may eventually be a positive impact on inequality of pay across the gender divide.

For more information please contact our Employment Law Team on 0161 630 5151