Employers twice as likely to offer enhanced parental leave compared to last year, study finds

Job adverts mentioning SPL were also on the up with nearly four times as many mentions as in 2019

Branislav Nenin/iStockphoto/Getty Images

The number of job postings mentioning enhanced parental leave has doubled since last year, analysis by Indeed has found.

Latest data, taken from job postings in the UK, found that those mentioning enhanced parental leave were up 102 per cent compared to last year, as were those mentioning shared parental leave (also up 102 per cent).

Compared to 2019, job postings mentioning shared parental leave (SPL) were up nearly four times the amount, with an increase of 279 per cent.

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Meanwhile, postings mentioning enhanced parental leave – defined as parental leave that is above the statutory minimum required in the UK – rose 1,316 per cent since 2017.

The research found that 1.84 per cent of job adverts offered enhanced parental leave in May 2022, compared to 0.9 per cent in the previous year.

Glenda Kirby, vice president of client success EMEA at Indeed, said it was important that parents felt supported by their employers during their parental leave and beyond in their careers. 

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She said that paid leave programmes led to better wellbeing, which can have a “knock-on effect” on productivity and loyalty. Policies focused on fathers and secondary caregivers could also “shift household tasks away from women”.

The analysis, which was based on postings mentioning “generous, extended, competitive, enhanced, or market-leading” parental leave, showed that three of the top five most generous companies offering enhanced parental leave were in retail.

The research comes after recent figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that three-quarters (76 per cent) of mothers with dependent children were in work from April to June of 2021: the highest level in 20 years.

Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said that when women returned to work after having a family, they may face reduced hours and have to balance work with childcare. 

Employers offering enhanced parental leave policies to women and encouraging men to take up parental leave not only have a “positive impact on gender equality and pay equity at work, but also supporting equality at home and in childcare too”, she said.

Despite the increase in enhanced parental leave, recent research by StandoutCV found that only 1.4 per cent of job adverts in the UK offered enhanced parental leave. This was below the amount of job postings offering subsidised or part-subsidised gym memberships, which was 4 per cent.

Separate research from instantprint also found that 25 million people in the UK were ‘less than satisfied’ with current statutory paternity pay, which is two weeks of leave at 90 per cent of average weekly earnings, or £156.66, whichever is lower.

16 million said the same of current statutory maternity pay, which is six weeks at 90 per cent of average weekly earnings (before tax), followed by 33 weeks at 90 per cent of weekly earnings or £156.66, whichever is lower.

The research found that more men than women (37 per cent compared to 26 per cent) valued enhanced parental leave policies, and two-thirds (69 per cent) said that when jobseeking, they would favour a role with a competitive salary over one with enhanced parental packages.

Marketing company Delivered Social is one of those offering its employees enhanced parental leave, including four months’ maternity leave and three weeks’ paternity leave at full pay.

Its director, Jonathan Bird, said parents should have “every opportunity possible to enjoy the time they have with the kids”, and deserve “far more than the bare minimum”. During the “exhausting” period following a birth, it is important that employees did not have to worry about their finances.

The company also offers two months’ paid leave for anyone affected by stillbirth. Bird said “I know first-hand the devastation parents go through and it's far more than any standard bereavement leave could begin to impact”. 

“The healing process is never-ending, but of course, the time immediately following stillbirth is unlike anything else,” he said. “As an employer, just taking away the worries of work, the stress of a missed paycheck or two and offering as much support as we can is the least we can do”.

As well as this, the company offers unlimited leave for parents to attend events such as parents’ evenings, school trips and plays. “We don't want anyone missing out on their children's starring roles or the opportunity to hear how fantastic they are doing at school,” added Bird.

Train app Seatfrog also offers employees 13 weeks’ full pay then three months half pay for both parents, as well as a supported return to work, and funds childcare and remote office environments during the first few months of parenthood.

Its founder Iain Griffin said: “I don't want someone to put having a family on hold”, adding businesses that do not support parents with appropriate policies “will suffer”.

“Make your company a place where people want to work”, he urged.

David Garrick, a consultant at Connect Three, said flexibility was “key” when implementing such policies: “A challenge is to build a culture where parents can have confidence that taking advantage of the leave available won't damage their career prospects,” he said, pointing out that men were usually reluctant to take paternity leave and therefore more of the childcare burden sat with women.

Non-transferable ‘use it or lose it’ leave for fathers has been introduced in other countries as one way of redressing this balance, he highlighted, adding that successful implementation of such policies would lead to workplaces seeing greater motivation, engagement and employee retention.