The Business Case for Enhancing Shared Parental Leave (SPL)

All parents who meet the eligibility criteria have access to statutory SPL which includes Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).  Some organisations also offer an enhancement to the statutory minimum for SPL and other policies like Maternity and Paternity Leave.

These enhancements can make the policies more attractive to employees, demonstrate that their employer is supportive of their role as a parent and promote and inclusive, surportive cultures across the organisation.

Most organisations who enhance SPL do so in one of two ways:

  • Working within the existing statutory SPL framework and enhancing ShPP to encourage more parents to take the leave.
  • Going further, and developing gender-neutral policies, matching Maternity, Adoption and SPL policies. 

Key benefits of Enhancing Shared Parental Pay

Attracting and maintaining talent within the organisation

The marketplace for talent is becoming increasing competitive and in order to attract and retain talent, employers are increasingly enhancing their SPL policy since millennials, and in particular, millennial fathers are showing an interest in being more involved in childcare.  Direct competitors are also likely to be enhancing their SPL offering in order to differentiate themselves from other organisations within the industry.  In research conducted by Birmingham University, organisations discussed the importance of meeting the expectations of talented millennials in an international jobs market.

Promoting the brand

Each organisation has a value added in what it is their organisation offers and in order to differentiate the organisation from competitors, branding is important. Enhancement of SPL can help promote the brand and enhance the view of the organisation being family friendly. It can also help to promote the organisation as not abiding by gendered expectations and stereotypes.

Closing the gender pay gap

Organisations which enhance SPL report that a reason to do so is to help tackle their Gender Pay Gap and encourage more female representation on the board, often as part of a suite of measures and initiatives.  Having more support from a partner with childcare can help women pursue their careers. In addition, the more men who to take SPL, the less discrimination mothers using parenting policies will face.

Organisations that enhance SPL cite the attraction and retention of staff as a key reason to do so.  In a competitive market, enhanced leave policies will be popular, especially amongst Millennials, who can be particularly motivated by these policies (and whose attitudes are likely to shape workplaces going forward).  If your organisation offers enhanced policies, then consider publishing them on your website as a way to demonstrate it to prospective employees and even to customers.

A culture shift

A key part of the success of any enhanced SPL or Paternity Leave policies will be the extent to which senior management is involved, and the extent to which it is recognised and promoted by the organisation.  In research conducted by The Equal Parenting Project, organisations that enhanced SPL cited senior buy-in and support as a key component of the success of the process.

Concerns about costs of enhancing policies may well emerge, but these can be addressed by modelling multiple scenarios for uses of SPL, focussing on the benefits to the organisation, including the need to match competitors’ practices and enhance diversity and inclusion. Enhanced SPL also provides an opportunity to develop talent internally by ‘backfilling’ – employees ‘stepping up’ into roles at higher grades and/or develop skills.

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