New research by My Family Care has revealed that only between 0.5% and 1% of male employees have taken Shared Parental Leave since it's introduction last April.
In a nutshell, the scheme means that couples can divide the 50 weeks of leave available to them in any combination that suits.
Esquire's Deputy Editor Johnny Davis took up SPL and wrote about his decision in the Guardian recently:
"As a man, what you're used to hearing before you have a kid is how much worse off your life is going be, how all the fun is going to stop, and how your social life, Christmas meals and all, will vanish. That's all true. But what few men fess up to is the overwhelming wave of love that begins the day your baby is born and only gets stronger."
Great in theory, so why still such a shortfall of men taking up the scheme?
The Women's Business Council released figures that 55% of mothers didn't want to share their leave as new mothers are often reluctant to leave children soon after birth. "I would want to spend the maximum amount of time with my child before returning to work" said one surveyed mother.
Also, My Family Care survey pointed to money concerns being the main reason men aren't taking up Shared Parental Leave. 80% of those surveyed said their decision would depend on finances as SPL only pays out for 39 of 52 weeks off. As men are still the breadwinners in 68% of marriages, families often can't afford for a cut in their salary. Founder of The Dad Network, Al Ferguson has written about the pressures on men to earn:
"Many working dads still feel it's their duty to go out and earn the money, despite having this option to stay at home with their new baby."
The scheme has been successful in Nordic countries where around 90% of fathers take share their leave with partners. This is likely due to the significantly larger pay out from companies in Sweden and Norway. Perhaps time we all packed up for their shores.