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Government promises shared parental leave by 2015

New parents will be able to share the current 52 week entitlement to parental leave between them from 2015, the government has announced.

Currently fathers can only take up to six months paternity leave in a single block, and only after their baby is 20 weeks old. Other than the initial fortnight after birth, couples will be now able to divide the entire year between them, and either parent will be legally entitled to return to their job as long as they do not go on leave for a total period of longer than six months.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the current rules are “Edwardian” and mean many mothers feel insecure about their careers.

“Women deserve the right to pursue their goals and not feel they have to choose between having a successful career or having a baby. They should be supported by their employers, rather than being made to feel less employable or under pressure to take unchallenging jobs.”

He added:

“It is already illegal to sack a woman because she is pregnant, or on maternity leave, but we want to go further than that. We want to create a fairer society that gives parents the flexibility to choose how they share care for their child in the first year after birth. We need to challenge the old-fashioned assumption that women will always be the parent that stays at home, many fathers want that option too.”

The new entitlement would also encourage greater involvement by fathers, he claimed.

Employers will have the right to approve patterns of time off. But the Institute of Directors (IoD) described the plans as a “nightmare”.

IoD deputy director of policy Alexander Ehmann said: “The proposed system is considerably more complex and unwieldy than the current laws and employers will – once again – have to absorb the cost of adapting and implementing this new system.”

But Nick Clegg insisted:

“There shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach; that’s not how families are set up. Many businesses already recognise how productive and motivated employees are when they’re given the opportunity to work flexibly, helping them retain talent and boost their competitive edge. This is good for families, good for business and good for our economy.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. u6c00 says:

    I thought I’d never see it, but finally a government policy I actually agree with!

  2. Luke says:

    Yup, yet another policy to make businesses in our country even less efficient and for it to be even harder to compete on a world level – to say it is good for our business and for our economy is just not being honest.

    I think the answer is to get rid of all mandatory right to return from maternity/paternity leave – single people are continually dumped on in this regard – it is not as though we do not subsidise families already and we are hardly short of human beings on the planet, we have reached plague proportions…

  3. Paul says:

    What’s the point of paternal rights if you’ve separated and she won’t let you even see the baby?

    Get the law on parental rights, post-separation, right first then worry about paternal rights. It’s all arse about face at the moment.

    The other basic wrong that still exists regards parental responsibility where an unmarried father still lacks legal PR if his name isn’t entered on the birth certificate for some reason. As happened with me, the mother might have had the hump with him and so the father has no PR. That’s actually an outrage for this day and age.

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