Mother and Baby

Could Shared Parental Leave Work For You?

Section: Work & maternity

With the Government planning to allow mums and dads to share parental leave, this could spell a whole new wave in flexible childcare. But how do mums really feel about sacrificing their maternity leave and could shared leave really work for your family?

Be honest, how did you feel when the Government unveiled recent plans to allow maternity leave to be shared equally between both parents?

While some mums will have waved the muslins in triumphant celebration, we expect most will have given a sarcastic snort followed by an emphatic ‘not on your nelly!’ But is the latter group of sceptics giving paternity leave a fair crack of the baby reigns?

Under new proposals set to be introduced in 2015, the Government plans to allow new parents maximum flexibility with sharing the parental leave.

At the moment new mums can take a maximum of 52 weeks maternity leave, while fathers are entitled to two weeks statutory paternity leave.

Since April 2011, parents have been able to share some of the 52 weeks existing leave, with dads able to take up to six months beginning after the baby is 20 weeks old.

However, currently this can only be taken as a single block, as can the leave mums take.

So how many dads have been taking the chance for 26 weeks off work to stay at home with the baby? Well, not very many. Uptake has so far been slow with less than 1 per cent of fathers opting for it in 2011/12, according to a report by trade union organisation TUC.

There will be more flexibility under the new system, with proposals that promise:

•    A new mum will be able to trigger flexible leave at any point after the first two weeks' recovery period
•    Parents will be able to share the remaining 50 weeks between them as they like
•    Leave could be taken in turns, in different blocks, or at the same time
•    Maximum leave will remain 12 months, nine of them on guaranteed pay
•    Couples will need to be ‘open’ with employers and give them ‘proper notice’
•    Paternity leave to remain at two weeks but to be reviewed in 2018

What do you think? Could shared leave work for your family?

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