At our recent Advancing Parental Leave Equality Event in London, eighty business and Government thought-leaders and influencers came together in a discussion on shared parental leave. The attendees noted that “eligibility and a lack of awareness of shared parental leave“, as well as feeling “financially unable” were primary factors in the shockingly low uptake of shared parental leave.

These notions are supported in a newly published Harvard Business Review article about new research on family leave policies and parenting culture in Scotland, showing that working fathers remain worried about their career prospects and the potential financial burden of taking parental leave.

The research revealed that despite the increased efforts of employers to satisfy the needs of modern working fathers, men felt “worried and even embarrassed to use offered leave and flexible working arrangements.”

Their research also proves that employee retention and overall job satisfaction are high in companies which provide programs to support their working parents, and that these factors “balance out the cost of offering fatherhood benefits.”

The fathers in the study said that “parenting perks provided a stronger incentive to stay with the company than increased salary did.” But the research found that “these positive benefits are lost, though, when fathers don’t take the leave that their employers offer”. To read the full Harvard Business Review article tap here. It highlights the missed business opportunities but also includes some top tips for employers on how to encourage fathers to make the most of their parent focused policies.

Businesses making shared parental leave the new norm

“The reality in many organisations is that expectations for female and male employees are still vastly different”, outlines the article.

In Australia, the circumstances are much the same. Recently Medibank announced that they offer equal benefits to mums and dads when it comes to parental leave. They are one of the only employers in Australia to do so. Over 50% of Australian workplaces offer no form of paid parental leave top up or benefit- meaning we are lagging on a global scale.

In an article on Women’s Agenda, Medibank’s new FamilyFlex policy is outlined. The fantastic policy offers 14 weeks paid leave to parents, irrespective of whether they are the primary or secondary carer. To read the full Women’s Agenda article tap here.

Over the coming months Parents At Work will be announcing an initiative that highlights some of the most progressive employers in Australia and on the global stage who are making the most of the benefits that having a shared parental leave and carer support scheme can bring for a business and it’s employees. Watch this space!