An Examination of a New Parental Leave Policy in the UK: Findings from a Survey with Expectant Parents

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Katherine TWAMLEY, University College London, United Kingdom
Pia SCHOBER, University of Tübingen, Germany
The UK is an example of an Anglophone country, which historically have been characterized by low levels of statutory leave provision for mothers and even less for fathers. However, in April 2015 the UK introduced Shared Parental Leave (SPL), allowing mothers to transfer their maternity leave to their partners from two weeks after the birth or adoption of a child. Despite policy and media interest in SPL, there has been very limited research conducted to date and knowledge on take-up is poor. This paper will present findings from an in-depth survey conducted with expectant parents in two NHS trusts in England on their knowledge, views and plans around leave after the birth of their child. The study offers the opportunity to examine the relatively new introduction of fathers’ access to parental leave in the liberal welfare regime context of the UK. 856 expectant parents took part in the survey. We found that knowledge of and access to SPL is strongly correlated with education, ethnicity and home ownership. Finances and negative career consequences were cited as primary barriers to take up of SPL. Hypothetical vignettes around potential policy changes indicated that knowing others who take SPL would be most likely to encourage individuals’ reported intention to take SPL. We discuss the findings in relation to theories around social stratification, policy-feedback, and gender as a social structure.