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Shared Parental Leave: Exploring Variations in Attitudes, Eligibility, Knowledge and Take-up Intentions of Expectant Mothers in London


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. There has been very limited research conducted on this leave policy to date and knowledge on take-up is poor. We present findings from an in-depth survey conducted with expectant mothers in two NHS trusts in England on their knowledge, views and plans around leave after the birth of their child and examine variations across educational and ethnic groups. A total of 575 expectant mothers took part in the survey. Around 7.4 per cent of expectant mothers who were (self-)employed or in education intended to take SPL. Finances and worries over fathers’ careers were cited as the primary barriers to take up of SPL. Individual entitlement for fathers and knowing others who took SPL increased individuals’ reported intention to take SPL. Applying logistic regression models, we found that knowledge of and access to SPL is correlated with education, ethnicity and home ownership. Future research and policy design should attend to such issues to ensure equitable access across families.

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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
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