Silver lining Is 56 too late to start saving for a pension?
Page 3 European countries, such as Slovenia and Sweden, introduced similar policies four decades ago and now have some of the smallest gender pay gaps in the world.
Tom McLaughlin, an employment lawyer at law firm BDBF, said: “If you take six months off work there are obvious issues in needing to hand over client relationships to others and then pick up your work again down the line.
“My wife and I did shared parental leave, we’re both lawyers and it allowed her to stay in touch better and come back to work sooner.”
The other obvious benefit is that fathers can be more involved in their child’s upbringing.
Francesca Clark, 35, and her husband Samuel Hutchinson, 39, split eight months of leave between them after their son, Max, was born in 2016. Ms Clark, who is executive producer of HighTide, a small theatre company, was able to return to work for a major event the company holds every year, but Mr Hutchinson was also able to gain valuable time with his son.
“It was a really positive experience for us. Our employers were really committed to making it happen,” she said. “I wanted Samuel to understand what it was like to be at home with a small child and I think we are both better parents as a result.”
Sorrel Ashton, 29, and her husband Dave, 32, also took advantage of shared leave when their son, Cooper, was born a year ago.
Mr Ashton said: “Being at home for three months was brilliant. Sorrel and Cooper had built a very strong bond and I was a bit of a third wheel. I was able to get more involved.”
Why is the policy failing?
Estimates suggest a fraction of eligible parents have applied while some studies suggest more than 60pc of British companies have never had a request for shared parental leave. Nat Whalley, of Organise, the workplace campaigning site, said: “Shared parental leave is a great policy. But at the moment it’s a missed opportunity for millions of