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Parents Gain Flexible Parental Leave in The Children and Families Bill

6 February 2013 by Crystal HR & Payroll Ltd

New parents will gain greater flexibility over how they divide up their childcare thanks to government plans unveiled today.

The Children and Families Bill will allow working parents to share maternity leave between them, and alternate time off in small successive chunks.

The shake-up will also see the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees.

Business minister Jo Swinson said: “Current workplace arrangements are old-fashioned and rigid. Employers will soon get used to more men taking time off after their child is born and more mothers returning to work earlier, shattering the perception that it is mainly a woman’s role to stay at home and look after the child.

“Flexible working will also help widen the pool of talent in the labour market, helping to drive growth.”

Under the new system:

  • employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave;
  • mothers can choose to end their maternity leave after the initial two week recovery period; working parents can then decide how they want to share the remaining leave;
  • fathers will gain a new right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments;
  • there will be new statutory payment for parents on shared parental leave with the same qualifying requirements that currently apply to statutory maternity and paternity pay; and
  • those who have adopted a child will be entitled to the same pay and leave as birth parents

Changing attitudes

Katja Hall, chief policy director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says the reform can be a ”win-win” for employers but it must be simple to administer.

“The extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees reflects common practice in many workplaces. But businesses have to balance the needs of all their employees as well as customers, so they must retain the right to say no,” she said.

However, Thomas Eggar solicitor Andrew Crudge says the plans are ill thought out and will damage business.

“This will create a huge burden for employers, most of which would struggle to cover these intermittent absences,” he said. “Parents should have the right to decide whether the mother or father (or both) will take parental leave. But the entitlement to successively alternate time off does not bring equality.

“It would have been far better to simply require leave to be taken in one continuous block.”

Feb 6th, 2013

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