Researcher invites parents to contribute to UK parental leave reform debate

9 December 2022

Francesca Arduini, Lecturer in Economics at Jesus College and an ESRC researcher at University College London, is inviting people to participate in a short survey on their experiences and views on parental leave, as part of a research project that aims to inform policy recommendations for the reform of parental leave in the UK.   

Francesca’s research explores maternity, paternity, shared parental, and adoption leave provisions available to individuals working for different organisations in the UK. Parental leave, which pertains to the first year after a child’s arrival, is covered by numerous Government schemes such as Maternity and Paternity Leave, Maternity Allowance, Shared Parental Pay, Adoption Leave and more. Each scheme has different eligibility requirements, meaning the system can be often be confusing, inefficient and unfair to those trying to navigate it.

Young woman with dark brown hair wearing grey jacket and black tshirt underneath

Francesca Arduini, Jesus College Lecturer in Economics


Francesca says, “This is an important topic, as parental leave reform has the potential to unlock several benefits, such as narrowing the gender pay gap. However, it has been mostly left out of the recent policy debate. As part of my research, I’m trying to get the debate started again, cooperating with organisations such as the Women’s Budget Group to get people involved in sharing their experiences and views on the matter”.

She recently wrote a short article for mumsnet on how parental leave impacts the gender pay gap, highlighting the fact that the current system perpetuates traditional gender roles that lead parents to behave differently from what might be best for their children, themselves and society as a whole. In the article she writes: “Society is shifting towards less gendered parenting. However, there is a hard truth for us to face: if parenthood remains gendered, so does the world of work. Promotions, high wages, and positions of responsibility go to those who take less time away from work and are not sole primary carers. If we want to narrow gender ay gaps and increase representation of women at senior levels in a range of careers, it is necessary for parenthood to also become more gender equal, starting with parental leave”. The article prompted a wide response from mumsnet users, who shared their different experiences of navigating the parent leave system.

Francesca’s survey is open to all parents who have had, or adopted, a child in 2016 or after, or who are currently expecting. She explains, “I’m really keen to hear from parents who have had to deal with any kind of parental leave scheme in the UK, and what drove their decision-making processes. I’m also interested to know what reforms would help them most”.

The survey, which only takes 5-10 minutes to complete, offers “parents the opportunity to help advocate for evidence-based reform” she says. The more parents who answer this survey, the more accurate, convincing and powerful the recommended reforms will be, and the more likely to make a difference”.

For more information on the survey, and to contribute to Francesca’s research, click here.