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Sociology of the family: shared parental leave – new policy

Shared parental leave is soon to be introduced and this policy is an excellent example of how there has been a shift of norms and values to perhaps see the father as an equally important part of the primary socialisation of young children. 

How it works

■ Shared parental leave (SPL) and shared parental pay (ShPP) are available for working parents whose baby is due or who adopt a child on or after today 5 April 2015.

■ Statutory maternity leave and pay, ordinary paternity leave, adoption leave and pay will continue as before and run alongside SPL.

■ SPL must be taken in the 12 months following birth or adoption.

It can be stopped and started. One partner can start SPL while the other is on maternity leave, or both can be on SPL at the same time, so both parents can be home together for 25 weeks if they wish.

■ Or they can stagger it: mothers can end their maternity leave after two weeks and parents can split the remaining 50 weeks any way they like.

■ ShPP is £139.58 a week unless an employer offers an occupational SPL/ShPP scheme.

■ SPL is for couples rather then single parents, and couples must share the main responsibility for caring for the child. If the employee is a mother, she can opt into SPL with the child’s father (even if they don’t live together), their spouse, civil partner or partner who lives with them.

However, it has been found that in places such as Sweden where a similar policy is in place, not much has changed. This is because the father usually earns more money so it makes economical sense for the woman to stay at home.

Read the article for more detail:



Sociology and Media Studies teacher at Hazelwick School, West Sussex. Former teacher at Felpham Community College and Doha College

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