Proposed changes to parental leave for employees (and other morsels of comfort)…

Employment specialist Elaine Bruce, from our London office, looks (expectantly) at the Government’s proposed changes for working families…

elaine_bruceIn February 2013, the Children and Families Bill was presented to Parliament. Being in a rather ‘delicate condition’ myself (nearly 8 months pregnant), I’m particularly interested in the proposed changes to the rights afforded to working families, albeit that they are only due to be implemented in full from 2015.

In response to the Government’s modern workplaces consultation, the Bill proposes to allow parents to share the rights that mothers currently have to statutory maternity pay (SMP) and leave, provided that both parents meet certain criteria.

Changes to flexible parental leave and pay (paid at SMP rates) is aimed at allowing parents to share the remaining period of maternity and pay between them, once a mother has taken the compulsory two week maternity leave period following the birth of a child. The right to apply for flexible parental leave will apply equally to adoptive and surrogate parents throughout.

The proposals also include the entitlement of fathers/partners to attend two ante-natal appointments, and the right to request flexible working is to be extended to all employees with qualifying 26-week continuous service.

The thrust of the changes is likely to impact mainly on fathers’/partners’ employment rights in that, once implemented, an employer will have to pay a father/partner who chooses to take flexible parental leave, including any entitlement to pension contributions.

This Bill has been sent to Public Bill Committee. The Committee is expected to meet next on 16 and 18 April 2013.

In the meantime, more good news – as of 6th April 2013, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, and Maternity Allowance will increase from £135.45 to £136.78 per week.

Every little bit helps!

Elaine Bruce, Employment, Marcus Weatherby,
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