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Government urged to do more to support working parents

Published: January 5, 2017

The government needs to do improve free childcare provision and encourage the uptake of shared parental leave, according to the CIPD.

The government needs to do more to support parents who work, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Problems such as the low uptake of shared parental leave and sky-high costs for childcare for parents of children between nought and two need to be addressed, the research claims.

The survey – which looked at the opinions of more than 1,000 professionals in human resources (HR) – revealed that just five per cent of new fathers and eight per cent of new mothers have taken up SPL since it was introduced last year.

Only one in five (21 per cent) of organisations have received a request for SPL, while in 67 per cent of business that allow mothers to take part, not one has applied.

CIPD’s poll also revealed that expensive childcare for children up to two years old could be standing in the way of women returning to work after maternity leave. Respondents believed that if the same level of free childcare available for three and four years olds was rolled out to younger children then uptake would be better.

The organisation suggests that the government needs to step in and promote SPL more vigorously, while also improving free childcare provisions to encourage more parents back to work.

Commenting on the results, Rachel Suff, employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said that SPL was a milestone in terms of gender equality, as it gives parents more choice and flexibility after the birth of their child.

“However, the complexity of the rules and the financial gap between statutory maternity pay and statutory shared parental pay in the early weeks are clearly outweighing these positives in reality for many,” she explained.

Ms Suff wants to see the government look into what actions can be taken to ensure SPL leads to greater gender equality in the UK.

“At a time of greater economic and labour market uncertainty, we need a national childcare strategy developed by government in collaboration with employers, so that parents with younger children have better opportunities to return to work after having a baby,” she continued.

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