Parental leave change for Fathers

Parental leave change to give fathers year off work

'Flexible parental leave' to allow fathers to take year off work but cabinet in disagreement over impact on business, say reports

Paternity leave

The new system will mean that either the mother or father can claim parental leave and the allowance after two weeks. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

 

Fathers will be able to take the majority of the first year of a baby's life off work if the mother goes back to work under coalition proposals, it has been reported.

Under new legislation planned for next year, if a mother is the family's main breadwinner, she can go back to work after two weeks and the father can claim "flexible parental leave", the Daily Telegraph said.

Implementation of the scheme will not take place until October 2015 following a disagreement in cabinet over the impact on business, the paper said.

A government source told the Telegraph: "This is being introduced slowly and with great care to ensure that it does not undermine business during the difficult economic times.

"But it was a coalition pledge and it is important to both the prime minister and the Liberal Democrats that both parents should be supported to spend time with their new children."

Under the current system, mothers are legally entitled to 90% of their earnings for the first six weeks after birth. They can then receive a maternity allowance – equivalent to either 90% of earnings or £135.45 a week, whichever is the lowest – for an additional 33 weeks. Some employers offer more generous terms.

Fathers are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave and mothers can transfer their leave to their partners after the first six months.

The new system will mean that either the mother or father can claim parental leave and the allowance after two weeks.

The source added: "This has taken a long time to develop as the system has to be robust enough to prevent fraud, with both parents claiming.

"It was decided to keep the current default system of assistance being given to women. There are also other safeguards to prevent vulnerable mothers, or those in families which do not function well, from losing their entitlements. Absent fathers will not benefit."

The campaign group Maternity Action said the move would increase flexibility in parental leave.

A spokeswoman said: "This is a long-overdue change which recognises that fathers as well as mothers can care for their baby. The increased flexibility will offer families real choices about managing work and caring responsibilities.

"We are mystified at claims that this is a burden on business. The proposals allow families to share existing entitlements. Many people are unaware that statutory maternity pay is reimbursed by government and the same arrangements apply to shared parental leave."

 

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