By Daniel Pollard - 4 December 2015
The arrival of our son Harry meant I was lucky enough to be one of the first fathers to take shared parental leave (SPL).
The idea of SPL is simple. Mothers can give up to 50 weeks of their 52 week maternity leave entitlement to the father for him to take as SPL. However the execution is lamentable: the new rules are unnecessarily complicated and are laid on top of an already complex maternity leave scheme.
To us, it sounded like a great idea. But the big question was financial. With the imminent expenses of parenthood, would one or both of us be paid? Of course, mothers who take statutory maternity leave get statutory maternity pay and the first six weeks are paid at 90% of pay. By contrast, statutory SPL pay is closer to £140 per week.
My then-employer generously agreed to match its enhanced maternity leave policy and so I was lucky enough to be paid in full.
Most employers who have chosen to match have either done so because they consider it the right thing to do or because of competitive pressure. This is usually a commercial decision but the risk of indirect sex discrimination claims from fathers who lose out is a live issue. These claims will turn on whether the differential treatment can be objectively justified.
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