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As New Paternity/Parental Leave Proposals Are Revealed Could it be All Change?

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Under new proposals launched this week, all employees - not just parents and carers - would have the right to request flexible working by 2013 and parents could get up to 13½ months of flexible leave by 2015.

ParentsThe proposals could also lead to changes in the current paternity and maternity leave scheme and whilst the initial portion of leave would still be reserved to the mother, much of it could be shared as both parents see fit.

The proposals include::

  • 18 weeks maternity leave would be available to be taken as a continuous block around the time of birth.
  • The remainder of existing maternity leave would be reclassified as parental leave and each parent would have four weeks paid leave exclusive to them with the remaining weeks available for either parent on an equal basis. Similar provisions would apply for adopters and same sex couples.

As Paul Grindley, Head of the Employment team at Keeble Hawson LLP explains:

“At present, mothers get 39 weeks paid at the statutory rate of around £128 and a further period of up to 13 weeks unpaid leave. Fathers get two weeks paid leave at the above rate; but since April have been able to take up to six months unpaid leave if the mother has gone back to work before her paid leave runs out.”

“In essence, under the changes which are subject to a consultation period starting this week, mothers would get a guaranteed five months and men six weeks. A further three months paid leave and four months unpaid leave could then be shared between the parents.”

Paul added:

“This could mean more administrative headaches ahead for employers and expose them to claims in the employment tribunal for a failure to comply.”

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