Parental leave could be set for a major overhaul. Today, the Coalition Government will announce plans for new mums and dads to be able to divide some paid and unpaid parental leave between them.
The current arrangement sees mums able to take 12 months maternity leave, with nine months of this being paid, and dads able to take two weeks’ paid leave. New rules came into play in April, seeing dads able to take up to six months’ leave if the mum went back to work before her paid leave ran out.
The Government’s proposal would see mums get five months’ paid maternity leave automatically and dads get an additional four weeks (so, six weeks’ paid leave all up). Mums and dads would then be able to split a further seven months leave between them, with four months of this being paid leave, reports the Telegraph.
In other words, a new dad would have the right to take five and a half months’ paid paternity leave, if he and his partner wished. Or, a new dad could take five and half months’ paid leave and three months’ unpaid leave, if the mum returned to work after five months. Of course, a mum and dad could split the leave differently to this, too.
Employers wouldn’t be able to refuse requests for the leave.
The proposals to be announced will also include the right for dads to take time off whenever they like in the first year of their baby’s life, if their employer agrees.
“For the first time, couples who want to share their parenting more equally will be able to work within the leave system rather than against it,” said Chief Executive of the Fatherhood Institute, Rob Williams. “Having a specified period of parental leave which can be shared means parents can decide for themselves what is best for the child – and minimise disruption in their workplace. And with four weeks of paid leave now allocated to the father on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, there will be much more incentive – and it will be more financially viable – for fathers to take this time off to spend with their child.”
Rob also added, “Evidence shows that children do better when fathers take time off work in their first year of life. We also know that shared parenting leads to stronger and more durable couple relationships and also reduces the gap between future earnings of mothers and fathers. And there is a wealth of research that shows additional paternity leave is helpful to employers; boosting productivity and performance and often enabling mothers to take shorter maternity leave.”
The plans are subject to a 12-month consultation period, so stay tuned…