16 May 2011 #Employment
The Government has today launched a consultation on plans to introduce a new system of flexible parental leave, which could come into force from 2015.
Under the proposals, once the early weeks of maternity and paternity leave have ended, parents will be able to share the overall leave allowance between them. Unlike the current system, this leave could be taken in a number of different blocks and both parents could take some leave at the same time.
Currently, mothers are entitled to 39 weeks of paid maternity leave followed by 13 weeks unpaid maternity leave. Maternity pay is broken down so that the first 6 weeks are paid at 90% of the employee`s normal weekly earnings, with the remaining 33 weeks paid at the statutory rate of £128.73 per week. Fathers get two weeks paid leave and since April, have the right to take up to 26 weeks` additional paternity leave if the mother has gone back to work before her maternity pay runs out.
Under these new proposals, mothers would get 18 weeks maternity leave and pay, to be taken in one continuous block around birth. This would be followed by 30 weeks additional parental leave, of which 17 weeks would be paid, and which could be broken down in blocks between parents. Moreover, both parents would be allowed up to 4 weeks parental leave and pay, to be taken at any time in the first year.