January 17, 2011

Paternity leave to be extended

by Jan Harris

The coalition government has announced plans to increase paid paternity leave to up to 10 months, with effect from April.

Announcing the change, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called for an end to Edwardian attitudes to childcare.

The new rules allow parents to share the existing 12 months maternity leave allowance.

This will mean that if a mother returns to work without taking her full year’s maternity leave, the father will be allowed to take the remaining time.

The scheme could be extended even further in the future, giving grandparents and close family friends the right to ask for flexible hours.

The couple may even be allowed to split the time into short periods of just a few weeks, and use it up between them.

While all this flexibility will be great for new parents, business groups are warning that it could be a nightmare to administer, and taking short periods of leave would make it difficult for companies to plan ahead.

Under the current provision women can take six weeks of maternity leave on 90 per cent pay, followed by 33 weeks on statutory maternity pay of £125 a week, while mean are allowed just two weeks of paternity leave, on statutory pay.

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