How does the UK truly feel about men and women sharing parental leave and childcare?

It’s 2015 and women are building global businesses, leading mergers and acquisitions, and becoming household names thanks to their boardroom prowess.

This has been demonstrated over the years by the likes of Tech City UK chair and digital adviser to David Cameron, Joanna Shields; Anne Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold; lastminute.com founder Martha Lane Fox; Ultimo founder Michelle Mone, and Confused.com founder and Buddi CEO Sara Murray.

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Meanwhile, while she has faced some criticism, former Google engineer-cum-executive turned Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has helped the company grab countless headlines since 2012 through more than 30 takeovers – including the $1.1bn Tumblr buyout – to stay relevant and grow profits.

Needless to say, business is no longer a man’s world.

And that’s great news, of course, especially as the UK approaches the shared parental leave programme which launches on 5 April 2015.

To recap, the government scheme allows new parents to share the total allowance of 50 weeks maternity leave. Mothers are able to return to work sooner if they wish to do so and hand over the remaining allowance, while fathers can experience additional one-to-one time and provide more support than is currently enabled through the maximum fortnight period of paternity leave – which must be taken within 56 days of the birth.

Despite this huge recognition of how women’s careers have changed and the diversity experienced in the market over the years, a report on 5 December showed fathers were underwhelmed by the prospect as just 23 per cent of men agreed that parents should share leave – though this spiked to 31 per cent for 18-24 year olds.

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The data also found that 42 per cent of men would take the minimum paternity leave, and just 12 per cent approving of taking the full allowance, with the decisions driven largely based on earnings.

Indeed, while the policy may have changed on time away from the workplace, the procedure for pay is still very much basic – 90 per cent of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, then a statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) rate of £138.18 a week for 37 weeks following that.

It’s a tangled process, especially if some businesses have gracious maternity procedures in place, so employers should have started looking at the legalities months ago.

So what do Clegg and Swinson have to say on the matter? Find out on page two.

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