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    Shared Parental Leave in the UK: can it advance gender equality by changing fathers into co-parents?

    Atkinson, JL (2017) Shared Parental Leave in the UK: can it advance gender equality by changing fathers into co-parents? International Journal of Law in Context, 13 (3). pp. 356-368. ISSN 1744-5523

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    Abstract

    The article aims to provide a critique of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) in the UK from a gender equality perspective, namely to assess whether SPL is capable of enabling more men to take leave in order to act as the main carer for their child. Leave policies in Nordic countries, where the rate of take up by fathers is high, are also examined. It argues that SPL is open to legal challenge by fathers who do not meet the eligibility criteria, as the SPL scheme as currently drafted breaches the terms of the EU Parental Leave Directive and is also discriminatory on grounds of sex. The article concludes that SPL is flawed as a policy. Whilst the UK government argues for a more equal division of childcare between father and mother, it seems unwilling to challenge the expectation that mothers provide the primary care for young children. Thus SPL will only be successful if the policy is reformed to include a higher rate of pay and a period of leave reserved for fathers.

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