What’s the shared deal?
Fathers will get the option to share childcare leave with mothers from April 2015.
The Liberal Democrats outlined the proposals last year, as a way to help women return to work and allow men to have more involvement with their babies. But now the Government has confirmed that shared paternity/maternity leave will come into effect early in 2015.
What will this mean for parents?
At the moment, women are entitled to take 52 weeks off work when they have a baby.
Under the new deal, parents will be able to share 50 weeks of that time – but only in continuous blocks and all leave must be taken at once.
They will have to give their employers a breakdown of how they plan to share their leave before it starts and businesses will have to agree it beforehand.
Fathers will also get the right to attend up to two antenatal appointments.
Parents returning to work will only be entitled to the same role if they take less than six months off. Anyone who takes longer will be offered the possibility of a similar – not identical – role.
What will that mean for maternity/paternity benefits?
At the moment, working women are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks. They can take up to 52 weeks off work, but 13 of those weeks are unpaid.
The statutory pay won’t change, but it will be split up between the couple.
So under the new proposal, if the mother decides to take off the first 6 weeks as maternity leave, she will get 90% of her earnings (before tax) per week. If her partner then decided to take off the next 33 weeks, he would be entitled to £136.78 per week or 90% of his average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.
Some companies may offer more attractive packages than this. And companies currently offering enhanced maternity leave packages to women will have to offer the same to men.