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Government reforms (1): Shared parental leave

shared parental leave - man with childWhat do we already know?

In November 2012 the Government announced that it intended to introduce a new system of statutory parental rights to allow both partners to take leave at the same time for babies due on or after 5 April 2015.

This has become known as ‘shared parental leave’, which will allow eligible mothers and their partners to be absent from work to care for a child for up to 52 weeks (with shared parental pay for 39 of those weeks).  The basics are:

Although the essence of the new right was straightforward, the administration of the new system needed more careful consideration.  In order to help to ensure that the system works for parents and employers alike, in February 2013 the Government published its consultation, Modern workplaces: shared parental leave and pay – administrative consultation (see our March 2013 Newsletter Shared parental leave: consultation).  This sought views on how the administration of the new right would operate in practice.

What is the news?

The Government has now published its response to the above consultation. This confirms how this new right for parents will work in practice.

The Government will be producing guidance to accompany the legislative changes.  However, in the meantime, the headline points from the Government response are:

What do we think?

Although undeniably good news for modern working couples, shared parental leave will no doubt cause headaches for employers, particularly around agreeing patterns of leave.  It will certainly add to the already complex issue of interlocking family-related rights.

There had been promises to harmonise the notification rules applying to the different categories of child-related leave, which would have started to help simplify the family friendly regime, but this appears to have slipped from the agenda.

We look forward to receiving clarity on the proposals when the necessary Regulations are drafted and we’ll be sure to update you.

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Review Solicitiors