Fathers to share parental leave

Government plans unveiled this week will give working fathers the chance to share parental leave and allow them greater access to their children after couples divorce, it has been revealed.

This May, David Cameron and Nick Clegg promised “unprecedented support for parents” with a new Children and Families Bill. Detailed within the lengthy bill are also measures to make it easier to adopt, and more support for children with special needs.

However, there were few details about how the new flexible parental leave arrangements could work, although experts believe options may include allowing mothers to return to work and transfer up to nine months of a year’s parental leave to fathers.

“Parents should be able to choose their childcare arrangements for themselves,” argued a spokesman for the Department for Business.

But while Parents’ groups welcomed the proposals, business leaders warned that making parental leave more flexible would impose complex “burdens” on employers and further stifle the UK’s long and gruelling economic recovery.

John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, instead warned that companies would face “endless” legal challenges and grievances resulting from “gender-neutral” parental leave.

“Ministers have chosen to ignore the fact that a complex new system of shared parental leave brings fiendish complexity and huge uncertainty for employers,” he said. “These proposals will hit business at precisely the time ministers are asking companies to create jobs and spur growth.

“While most businesspeople identify with the idea of gender-neutral parental leave, they’ve warned time and again that the Government’s proposals are unwieldy, difficult to understand and fraught with potential complications.”

For more information on upcoming changes to parental leave, and how you can take advantage, contact our employment experts today.