In 2015, new rules on shared parental leave (SPL) came into force. The rules allow parents to take up to 50 weeks off - shared between them – following the first two weeks after birth. It was hoped that these changes would help drive a cultural shift away from the expectation that mothers should take the lead on childcare, to the detriment of their careers.
From the get go, the new regime was subject to criticism. Many felt that the new rules did not go far enough, for example, by not introducing incentives to encourage gender equality. In Sweden, when uptake on SPL was low, a gender equality bonus scheme was introduced to encourage parents to share leave more equally. In the UK, no such incentives have been introduced, meaning that for many families SPL simply does not make financial sense. As such, the status quo is perpetuated, with women feeling compelled by finances to stay at home while their male partners advance their careers.
We want to hear about our members’ experiences of SPL. What decisions did you make about using the scheme? If you decided not to use it, why? Did you find the regulations unnecessarily complex? Was your employer or chambers supportive? Whatever your experience, good or bad, we want to hear about it!
To that end, we have put together this survey on SPL.
Please do take the time to complete this if it's relevant to you, so that we can better understand your experiences. The more comprehensive our data, the better our understanding of the practical issues facing women in criminal law in this area will be. We will use this data to formulate policy which advocates for equality between working parents in the family unit.
If you would like to share your experiences more directly, don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our LinkedIn or Twitter pages. All communications will be treated anonymously.
Huge thanks to Danielle Reece-Greenhalgh for putting this survey together and for leading our SPL initiative. If you want to learn more about the SPL initiative, you can watch a short video by Danielle introducing the survey here.