The legislation on shared parental leave that came into force on 1st of December 2014 is aimed at giving working mothers the opportunity to return to work early if they so choose after childbirth to continue with their career and also to give fathers the opportunity to be involved in the lives of their new-born. However, past research has demonstrated a very low uptake on shared parental leave. This paper aims to argue that working parents’ awareness on the existence of the legislation is key to its effectiveness.
A qualitative study approach was adopted to assess the importance of awareness. A sample of 40 eligible working parents were informally interviewed for 10 min to ascertain whether they know about shared parental leave. Participants were recruited at a primary school fair. The 40 parents were workers in different sectors which included care, hospitality, security, education, finance, retail and construction.
The findings indicated that awareness may be one key factor as to why the uptake of shared parental leave was low. It was also evident from the results that employers do not inform eligible employees of the existence of shared parental leave or support and encourage them to take shared parental leave. This paper concludes that to assess the effectiveness of shared parental leave, awareness is key.
The findings of this article are obtained from a limited time interview data. This paper is a basis for a bigger research project particularly on the reasons why mothers may or may not want to share their maternity leave.
Existing research has surveyed some employers and their employees and concluded uptake statistics based on their data. This study demonstrates that more awareness is required which has not been done yet. This research is part of an ongoing project investigating the reasons why mothers may or may not want to share their maternity leave, given that the legislation made mothers “gatekeepers” to the effectiveness of shared parental leave.
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