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Maternity Leave to be Shared Between Parents

New rules on leave after having children will allow partners to both take time off for up to a year, if the Government’s plans go ahead.

The Children and Families Bill, also includes the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, not just those with children.

The proposed Shared Parental Leave reforms will give parents greater flexibility about how they ‘mix and match’ care of their child in the first year after birth. They may take the leave in turns or take it together, provided that they take no more than 52 weeks combined in total.

These changes are aimed at allowing fathers to play a greater role in raising their child, help mothers to go back to work at a time that’s right for them, returning a pool of talent to the workforce.

The Government claims it will also create more flexible workplaces and boost the economy when it comes into force, in 2014 at the earliest.

Business Minister Jo Swinson said: “Current workplace arrangements are old-fashioned and rigid. The Children and Families Bill will bring the way mums and dads balance their lives at work and at home into the 21st century.

“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. These measures will really help our aim of ensuring more businesses are making best use of women’s talents throughout the organisation, from the boardroom to the shop floor.”

However, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have called for the Government to ensure tnew new system is easy to administer, so the burden does not fall on business.  Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, said: “Shared parental leave can be a win-win for employers and employees, supporting working families while helping businesses retain talent. For the benefits to be felt it must be simple to administer, especially for smaller firms.”

*The Glasgow Law Practice advises employers and employees on their duties and rights. Contact ss@theglasgowlawpractice.co.uk.