parental-leaveProposals to allow parents to share maternity leave have been announced by the Government, which could see new parents be given the opportunity to choose how they share a year’s worth of leave after the birth of their child.

Business Minister, Jo Swinson, said that current workplace arrangements were “old-fashioned and rigid”, and that the measures in today’s bill would “bring the way mums and dads balance their lives at work and at home into the 21st century.”

She said:

“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.”

Commenting on the announcement, Andrew Crudge, a Solicitor at law firm Thomas Eggar, said:

“The Government’s plan to allow parents to share maternity/paternity leave is a welcome development. However, the way in which parents could divide up this shared leave is ill thought out and damaging to business. The provisions will allow parents to request to alternate their time off in small successive chunks, returning to work between each.

“This would create a huge burden for employers, most of which would struggle to cover these intermittent absences. Employers will be able to turn down requests to alternate leave in this way, but such a refusal could cause unnecessary friction with employees. It would have been far better to simply require leave to be taken in one continuous block.”

Crudge continued:

“This is frustrating because the concept of shared parental leave itself is sensible. Parents should have the right to decide whether the mother or father (or both) will take parental leave. But the entitlement to successively alternate time off does not bring equality and creates an unnecessary burden for employers.”