250 new Welsh dads took shared parental leave last year

Tom, Sam and Deb Green Image copyright Thomas Green
Image caption Tom Green and wife Deborah split their parental leave and spent six months each with son Sam

Just 250 fathers officially took shared parental leave in Wales last year.

This was compared to 27,650 mothers taking maternity leave according to figures obtained by BBC Wales from HMRC for 2016/17.

It means less than 1% of new fathers in Wales received payment for shared parental leave to look after their newborn children.

The figures are for the first full financial year since shared parental leave was introduced in 2015.

The Freedom of Information request also found in England 6,100 fathers and 542,850 mothers received a statutory payment to take time off work with their children.

The figures, obtained by BBC Radio Wales' Eye On Wales, account only for men who received shared parental pay and women who received statutory maternity pay.

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Media captionDeborah and Tom explain what it is like to share parental leave

A spokesman said: "Parents may also take unpaid leave. HMRC are not able to identify these individuals and therefore cannot identify everyone taking shared parental leave or maternity leave."

The numbers were rounded to the nearest 50.

How it works

  • Shared parental leave is open to parents whose baby is due, or who have a child matched or placed for adoption
  • It must be taken between the baby's birth and first birthday, or within one year of adoption
  • Eligible parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay, after an initial two weeks of leave that is compulsory for the mother to take
  • Shared parental leave can be taken in one block, or split into blocks with periods of work in between
  • Statutory shared parental pay is paid at £140.98 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower

Source: UK Government; ACAS

Image copyright monkeybusinessimages
Image caption 6,100 fathers in the UK were given shared paternity pay in 2016/17

Cardiff University IT worker Tom Green, 37, took six months of shared parental leave to look after his son Sam.

He said: "Even though women take maternity leave this is accepted as the norm - I was the first person to take shared parental leave in my part of the university, so it wasn't usual.

"If I'm a pioneer, I'm a pioneer. I don't feel like it. I'm just trying to do the best for my family."

Jennifer Liston-Smith from My Family Care, which advises employers be more family friendly, said: "To come out, if you like, as wanting to share parenting, and certainly for guys in corporate cultures that is a little different and there are things for them to think about - is it going to affect their careers? Anything like this takes time to become more popular."

She said some fathers were using shared parental leave - which can be taken in blocks and at the same time as the mother is on maternity leave - as an add-on to paternity leave.

Ms Liston-Smith added: "What tends to happen is that a partner will take the statutory paternity leave and then take two maybe four weeks of shared parental leave when the baby first arrives. Then towards the end of the parental leave the partner might take another chunk of leave, but not a huge absence from his job."

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