Uptake of shared parental leave hindered by gap in pay and employer pressure


  • 44% of workers see employees struggling to return to work after pregnancy
  • Gender pay gap blamed for low uptake of shared parental leave (SPL)
  • Anti-SPL employers also to blame, according to 30% of workers

An Office Genie survey has uncovered a huge percentage of working people are still struggling to return to work after pregnancy. The government’s SPL initiative has failed to address this. The continued gender pay gap, alongside employer pressure not to take the time off, have been established as the key barriers to the scheme’s uptake and success.

The survey of 1,000 working people discovered nearly half (44%) of respondents have experienced difficulty returning to work after a pregnancy, either first or second hand.

The research highlights that the gender pay gap is the top reason only a small amount of couples have so far taken SPL [1]. The gender pay gap sits at 9.4% for full-time employees and 18.1% for all workers [2]: here, almost half (47%) of those surveyed believe the difference in wages between the sexes is behind the low take up of SPL.

After the gender pay gap, employer pressure not to take time off is considered the second most common reason for more couples not choosing SPL (around 30% of respondents). Earlier this year, MPs called to increase shared parental leave to help tackle the gender pay gap [3], but this research reveals that discrepancies in gender pay are in fact the cause of people failing to take up the scheme – highlighting a vicious cycle at play.

Sarah Sutton, Head of People Development at Genie Ventures, comments on the findings:

“The pay gap can be a major issue: if you are the highest earner in the family you are far less likely to take a significant amount of time off work at Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) rates of £140.98 a week. However, I would urge all employers to promote SPL nonetheless.

“The scheme gives employees the flexibility they need, and the benefits for the employer are tangible too: there’s a reduced turnover, increased staff loyalty and engagement, and it helps to create a family friendly culture.

“Employers have a duty to support their maternity and paternity leavers during and after their leave. It’s of vital importance to include leavers in regular work communications (including promotion opportunities), set up KIT days, and offer flexible working options on their return.”


Notes to editors:
[1] ‘Shared parental leave take-up woefully low, CIPD reveals’ by Jo Faragher for Personnel Today
[2] ‘Gender pay gaps must be declared by UK companies’ by Eleanor Lawrie for BBC News
[3] ‘Improve shared parental leave to cut gender pay gap, urge MPs’ by Peter Walker for The Guardian

About the data:1,000 British workers, in full or part-time employment, from across the UK were surveyed. The research was conducted online between 28th April – 10th May 2017.

Please find the full research documented here:

For further information, please contact:
Lilli Hender on 08444155531 or lilli.hender@officegenie.co.uk.

About OfficeGenie.co.uk:
Office Genie is an office search engine uniquely designed for SMEs and freelancers. The site launched in 2009 as the UK’s first national website for finding and advertising spare desk space in offices. It now offers a huge variety of UK office space.


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