Men still steering clear of shared parental leave, research shows

Despite rules that allow new parents to share 50 weeks of parental leave, just 1% of men have taken up the opportunity.

Tuesday marks a year since the government introduced shared parental leave, a system that was supposed to get women back into the workplace quicker and give men the opportunity to care full time for their new baby or adopted child.

But uptake among men remains low, according to research from My Family Care and the Women's Business Council.

Our Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall met father Sam Jackson, who has taken parental leave from his management consultancy job to look after his new son.

His employers Accenture say they have encouraged 10% of new fathers on their staff to take time off by offering more a more generous package and promoting the policy.

But as Penny discovered, elsewhere just 1% of men have taken up the opportunity - and more than half of women don't want to share their leave.

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The research found that men were interested in taking advantage of the system - almost two thirds of men who had young children said they would choose to take shared parental leave if they had another child.

Ben Black, the founder of My Family Care, which helps businesses introduce 'family friendly' ways of working said:

It is still very early days for Shared Parental Leave. While take up is low, its introduction was a fantastic step forward when it comes to equality in the workplace; a policy that proves that women are no longer expected to be the main childcare provider, while men are no longer expected to be the main breadwinner. The key thing for businesses is to help their employees combine work and family, by providing them with choices and enabling them to carry on with their careers while having a family.

Ben Black of My Family Care

Shared parental leave was introduced by the previous coalition government and came into force on April 4 2015.