DLA Piper

 

What contractual pay is offered to mothers* on maternity leave? 22 weeks at full pay
What contractual pay and leave is being offered to fathers/other parent who opt to take SPL? 22 weeks at full pay
Does contractual pay have to be repaid if the employees does not to return? No
Will entitlement to SPL be reduced according to SML already taken? Yes
Is your contractual Shared Parental Pay reduced by the number of weeks of SMP received by the mother? No
Can SPL be taken from day one of employment? No – employees are eligible if they have 26 weeks’ service at the 15th week before the EWC
Is it tied to the date of the child’s birth? Yes
Are there any limitations on how SPL can be taken ie minimum continuous block? No – no limits on discontinuous blocks
Do you incentivise certain patterns of leave? No
Do you offer a bonus on return from SPL if minimum period it taken? No

*or primary adopter

How are you communicating and encouraging people to take SPL?

Recognising the changes to UK legislation, we were one of the first law firms to announce our policy for Shared Parental Leave, matching SPL to our maternity provision. We took the opportunity of the development and launch of the SPL policy to INCREASE our maternity provision from 14 weeks to 22 weeks (this new amount is now very competitive for the legal sector).

Our UK Managing Partner used his video blog to personally announce the policy – demonstrating his leadership support and the importance of the messaging. We then followed up to the specific individuals affected with tailored information. We updated all our policies and supporting documentation, including a ‘policy at a glance’ on our intranet. We communicated the new policy change via our social media. We have shared our approach with other organisations (and indeed our competitors!) via Working Families breakfast seminars and a Law Society webinar. We know that there are risks attached to being an early adopter, but we believe we can have a positive impact on other employers by sharing our decision making process, explaining the rationale for our policy (including our expected outcomes) and by urging others to take a similarly progressive approach. We have also been featured on the ‘Employee Benefits’ website and have used this opportunity to explain the rationale for our SPL policy.

Can you describe what wider cultural changes needed to support SPL are being implemented?

For us, SPL is part of a broader approach to supporting working parents and carers, it is not a stand-alone policy. We are committed to supporting all our working parents and providing both mothers and fathers with greater flexibility for childcare responsibilities. We are already observing a cultural shift in terms of the priorities of both men and women – the male = breadwinner / female = homemaker equation is no longer valid and we know that many fathers want to be actively involved in caring for and raising their children. We are providing practical tools to support those choices – obviously a significant period of fully paid leave, but also information and awareness raising through our Family Resource Group. We are also providing all expectant fathers with paid time off for two ante natal appointments, recognising that involving fathers in their new baby’s life from the very start and maintaining that through the first year helps to keep them actively involved through to adulthood. Additionally, we are working on plans to run coaching sessions for new and expectant fathers. However, in society more broadly there is still a gap in preparing boys for fatherhood in the way girls understand what will be required if they want to become a mother in the future and employers have very limited ability to influence this. Having great policies is one thing, but really challenging the stereotype that childcare is the responsibility of the mother will require a root and branch approach.

What do you expect take up of SPL amongst fathers to be? Have you surveyed your employees about SPL and uptake?  Other surveys have shown that mothers may be unwilling to relinquish maternity leave: have you detected similar?

In order to predict likely uptake we looked at maternity leave, paternity leave, Additional Paternity Leave AND men taking holiday after taking paternity leave, including when and how long they took the holiday. We know that around half those employees who took paternity leave in the last 3 years also took a period of holiday in the first 8 weeks after their paternity leave, with the average length of holiday taken 5 days. We are therefore expecting some of our new fathers/partners to take a period of SPL in the first 2-3 months. Anecdotally, we are also anticipating that some fathers will also want to take a period towards the end of the first year, around the time when the mother is returning to work. The average length of maternity leave within our firm is 9.5 months. Dependent upon the SPL policy at the employer of the mother’s partner, it may well be that our mothers do not need to relinquish any of the maternity leave period they were planning to take. It is impossible at this stage to predict exactly what the uptake will be, but we tried to establish our best estimate. We have already had our first father go on SPL – he will be taking 2 weeks paternity leave, 8 weeks SPL and 2 weeks holiday.

Do you have any insight into how parents might like to take SPL? Which is best for your business in terms of planning?

We know that around half those employees who took paternity leave in the last 3 years also took a period of holiday in the first 8 weeks after their paternity leave, with the average length of holiday taken 5 days. We are therefore expecting some of our new fathers/partners to take a period of SPL in the first 2-3 months. Anecdotally, we are also anticipating that some fathers will also want to take a period towards the end of the first year, around the time when the mother is returning to work.

We have put no restrictions on discontinuous periods of leave; in many roles it could be helpful if the employee were to return for key periods (e.g. completion of a deal; peaks in workload) and then re-commence their leave. This is a fundamental difference between APL and SPL and is one that we welcome.