Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has recently announced that from 2015 the UK will move to a new system of flexible parental leave as part of a huge shake-up of current arrangements.
The biggest change covers parental leave, the creation of a more flexible maternity/paternity leave package.
Currently ordinary paternity leave is two weeks and this can be taken during the 56 days following the birth. Additional parental leave is up to 26 weeks but this can only start 20 weeks after the birth and stops on the child’s first birthday.
With the new measures, the mother, after two weeks following childbirth, could return to work and pass whatever time is left to run on her original year off to her partner. Parents could also structure their leave to take time off together, as long as no more than 12 months is taken in total, with no more than nine months at guaranteed pay.
This is a step in the right direction, moving away from a system that basically forces women to be the main provider of initial childcare, to one in which parents themselves decide how they want to share their leave to look after newborn children. However as yet, there is no indication that the same provisions will be made available to self employed men.
Under other changes, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees to encourage different work patterns for parents.
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