29/11/2013

New Rules Will Allow Parents To Share Childcare Leave

Parents will be given the option of sharing leave in a move designed to allow fathers to be more "hands-on" and to stop women having to choose between a career and raising children.

The move was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and will be introduced in April 2015.

The Institute of Directors, however, have described that the move will be a "nightmare" for employers.

In April 2011, rules were changed to allow maternity leave to be split between both parents, with fathers granted six months leave, beginning when the baby reaches 20 weeks old. This leave however has to be taken in a single block.

Under the new rules, the full 52 weeks can be shared by the parents – with the exception that bosses will be able to agree any proposed pattern of time off and will retain the right to insist it be confined to a continuous block, with no more than two subsequent changes.

"Women deserve the right to pursue their goals and not feel they have to choose between having a successful career or having a baby," Mr Clegg said.

He added: "They should be supported by their employers, rather than being made to feel less employable or under pressure to take unchallenging jobs.

"It is already illegal to sack a woman because she is pregnant, or on maternity leave, but we want to go further than that. We want to create a fairer society that gives parents the flexibility to choose how they share care for their child in the first year after birth.

"We need to challenge the old-fashioned assumption that women will always be the parent that stays at home, many fathers want that option too."

(MH/JP)

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