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October 27, 2021

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shared parental leave

Research finds Nordic countries are paving the way for the future of shared parental leave

Throughout the pandemic, many workplaces have offered their employees more flexibility. Flexible working options such as adjusting hours, days or place of work, are attractive to many employees, and can offer more control over how, where and when you and your teams work. New research by Bupa, has found that 27% of working parents want to see more flexibility at work.

Pablo VandenabeelePablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK, shares the benefits of shared parental leave for new dads and dads-to-be.

One area that’s surged in popularity over recent months is ‘shared parental leave’. This is where both parents can take time off in a more flexible way during your baby’s first year. New research has revealed a 33% increase in Google UK searches for ‘shared parental leave’ over the past year.

Bupa analysed every country in Europe to find out who offers the most statutory maternity and paternity leave for new parents. This means the number of days new mums and dads can take off work whilst still being paid from their employer when a child is born.

Research has shown that Nordic countries are paving the way for more flexible parental leave, allowing parents to share their time-off. New parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days leave after their child is born, compared with 50 weeks (380 days) in the UK.

Which European countries offer the most maternity leave?

An analysis into every European maternity policy found that Bulgaria offers the highest paid time away from work (58.6 weeks). This is closely followed by a wealth of countries offering 52 weeks of statutory paid leave, including Albania, Denmark and Serbia. Whilst the UK currently offers new mums 52 weeks off, only 39 weeks must be paid by your employer. This ranks the UK in 6th place, tied with Kosovo and North Macedonia.

Which European countries offer the most paternity leave?

Paternity leave varies widely across Europe, but in general fathers are entitled to fewer days off work compared to new mothers.

The average paid paternity leave is just 3.4 weeks, compared to 23.1 weeks for statutory maternity leave. Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland) offer generous paternity leave policies, with Sweden offering the highest statutory paternity leave at 34 weeks.

How can increased flexibility benefit employers?

Pablo Vandenabeele says: “Creating more options for new parents gives them greater choice in how to balance their own work and home life. Similarly, allowing parents more choice and flexibility to combine work with childcare responsibilities means that as an employer, you’ll be able to better recruit and retain talent”.

  1. Make your team aware of all their options

It’s important to communicate all the parental leave options available to your team that are offered by your business. This will allow your team to make informed decisions that work for both their families and careers.

If you’re unable to advise your team members on SPL in your workplace, put them in touch with a department that can help. If you don’t currently have the sources available to offer advice on SPL don’t worry – there are lots of useful organisations that can provide this information such as GOV.UK and Maternity Action.

  1. Work together to finalise your employees parental leave plan

It can be both daunting and confusing to understand the various types of parental leave – especially for first time parents. As a business leader, take the time to talk to your team members about how they are feeling and work together to create a plan that works for both the individual and your business too.

  1. Check-in regularly

Becoming a parent can be an overwhelming experience, especially for the first time. However, being open and available to talk to your team about their worries or concerns can help them feel supported.

For those parents currently on leave, it can be easy to feel disconnected from their team the longer they are away from their role. Taking the time to catch-up with team members on SPL can help them to feel part of the team – making the transition back to work smoother once they return to their role.

Offering a phased return through split SPL can help those team members returning from SPL, transition back to their role gradually.

  1. Offer support for those returning from parental leave

Before a parent returns from SPL, get in touch to see if there is anything you can do as a business to help them transition back into their working environment.

Similarly, if you notice a team member may be struggling, offering mental health and wellbeing support services can help.

Coronavirus advice for employers

This hub page complies all the latest government coronavirus updates. It includes what you can and cannot do in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, workplace advice from multiple sources, including information on welcoming staff back to the workplace and the latest vaccination information.

It also contains a host of useful external links and resources to find further information.

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