SheSays campaign pushes shared parental leave for working dads

Most UK companies are still only promoting parental-leave benefits to mothers.

SheSays: campaign inspired by fathers being less likely to take advantage of shared parental leave
SheSays: campaign inspired by fathers being less likely to take advantage of shared parental leave

SheSays, the global network focused on the advancement of women in the creative industries, has launched a campaign calling on businesses to change their parental leave and pay benefits for working fathers.  

While the UK government introduced the shared parental leave and pay policy in 2015, allowing both parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay, most companies continue to advocate this benefit only to mothers and the uptake by fathers has been minimal.

SheSays’ "#ShareBaby" campaign, running online and on social media, urges creative businesses to offer and actively promote these benefits to male employees. The organisation will showcase all companies that take the pledge on the #ShareBaby website and to its 40,000 members in 40 cities around the world, highlighting them as good places to work for progressive couples.

Just 2% of eligible parents in the UK are making use of shared parental leave, due to barriers including the financial hit, concerns about career impact and lack of awareness, according to government statistics.

The Nuffield Foundation found that fathers are twice as likely as mothers to have requests for flexible working turned down. And in the advertising industry specifically, while 28% of dads surveyed had requested a change in working hours, only 33% of those requests were successful, according to a 2019 report by parenting website DaddiLife and Deloitte.

Fabiana Xavier, president of SheSays London, said: "Not only will '#ShareBaby' give parents the choice on how they parent, we hope that it will also begin to reduce discrimination against women of childbearing age and the belief they have to sacrifice their career for a family. 

"It will also remove the stigma of men taking time off work to care for their children, enabling them to feel more comfortable about wanting to stay at home for longer than two weeks or [be] a full-time stay-at-home parent. Overall, we hope to be able to highlight that both men and women can continue to thrive in their careers while also being parents."

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