The Minister responsible for Shared Parental Leave has revealed he is not allowed to take Shared Parental Leave.
In an interview with the BBC’s Emma Barnett this morning, Business Minister Andrew Griffiths announced that while his wife is due to give birth on April 15, he is not eligible to take the years shared leave available to new parents.
A spokesperson for his department confirmed that as an elected official, Griffiths, along with other MPs, are not entitled to Shared Parental Leave.
Barnett – who is herself eight months pregnant – was unable to hide her shock that the person who had just been urging new parents to share their parental leave is himself unable to take it.
“Hang on a minute, back up a second,” she said, adding: “You’ve just come on the radio to promote Shared Parental Leave and you’re in a job where the rules could be changed because you are the rule-makers, where you’re not allowed to take Shared Parental Leave?”
“That’s right,” said Griffiths.
“How can you say that without laughing?” asked Barnett.
Griffiths said his main concern was for other parents to take advantage of the system.
He added: “I have to admit to you it’s not even something I had thought about. It’s not my priority.”
Shared Parental Leave was introduced in April 2015, and allows new parents to split 50 weeks of time off to care for newborns.
Parents can take it separately, or at the same time, but the total amount used cannot exceed 50 weeks.
Pay for Shared Parental Leave is £140.98 per week or 90% of your average earnings, whichever is lower.
The Department for Business revealed today that around 285,000 couples are eligible every year for Shared Parental Leave, but take-up rates “could be as low as 2%”.
Additionally, around half of the public are unaware the option exists – despite the policy being in place for nearly three years.
A £1.5million information campaign has been launched to increase awareness of Shared Parental Leave.
Griffiths said he did plan to take the full two weeks of paternity leave available to fathers as soon as their child is born.