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Flexible Parental Leave Due in 2015

Monday, 17 December 2012

In November 2012 Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, announced plans to reform parental leave. The plans will mean that both parents could get to share up to one year of leave after their child is born.

The legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament next year to take effect some time in 2015. This is great news for fathers who want to spend time with their new born baby but for smaller businesses it could represent difficulties.

Parental Leave Today

Current rules on Statutory Maternity Leave give the mother of a new-born baby 52 weeks of leave following the birth of a child. There is also a 2 week Compulsory Maternity Leave period immediately following childbirth. Fathers may also take up to 2 weeks of paternity leave. If a woman elects to return to work during the period of maternity leave then she cannot go back on leave again, even if it is during the 52 week period. The current Statutory Maternity Leave system will remain in place when the changes come in.

Flexible Parental Leave Proposals

The proposals are not expected to extend the total number of leave days that are be allocated to a couple but they will mean that there is much more flexibility in how they are taken. Initially mothers will have to the take two weeks Compulsory Maternity Leave following child birth. Mothers will then be able to elect to replace their Statutory Maternity Leave with Flexible Parental Leave if both parents meet certain qualifying conditions regarding pay and length of service.

Qualifying parents will effectively be able to share the remaining leave as they see fit as long as they stay within the 52 week total. This means that the leave can be split between them or both parents can take leave at the same time. Unlike the current fixed system the options will be much wider. The mother will be able to take all of the leave herself, split the leave with the husband or the couple will be able to take turns in looking after their new baby.

Flexible Parental Leave and Employers

Proponents of the changes have suggested that there will be workplace benefits from the new provisions. Nick Clegg suggested that the flexibility would help employers attract more women into businesses who might otherwise be afraid of the negative career effects of extended leave.

The provisions are believed to include a requirement for eight weeks notice be given to employers of the intention to take Flexible Parental Leave. This seeks to ensure that employers have adequate time to prepare for the leave. However, the British Chambers of Commerce have expressed concerns at how workable the proposals for Flexible Parental Leave will be in practice.

If you would like more information about how these proposals might affect you or your business, Rollingsons has experienced lawyers who can advise you. Please contact Aneil Balgobin via e-mail or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.

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