Parental Pay from 2015

Confused about maternity and paternity leave?

From October 2015 there is going to be a more flexible system in place for parents in England, Scotland and Wales to share maternity leave and to make it easier for mothers to return back to work. Instead of being called maternity leave or paternity leave, it will be introduced as Parental Pay.

Under these new rules, women will be able to return to work two weeks post childbirth and they will be able to share their maternity leave with their partners. This maternity leave can be taken off together or in turns and doesn’t have to be taken in single blocks. You will even be able to request flexible working (although this is not guaranteed).

At present, new mothers are entitled to take up to 52 weeks leave after birth. Fathers on the other hand are currently only entitled to 2 weeks of statutory paternity leave. If the fathers are really lucky, their work may pay them for their 2 weeks off but this is not a requirement – more of a good will gesture.

Since April 2011, mothers and fathers have been allowed to share some of the mother’s 52 week maternity leave but fathers could only take a single block of time off after the baby was 20 weeks old. The new system, to be implemented in 2015, will offer much more flexible leave. Mothers and fathers will be able to take leave in turns for the year, in different blocks (from as little as a week at a time) or together at any point after the first two weeks.

In order for this to work, couples will need to make their intentions clear to their employer and give them plenty of notice for your requirements.

In terms of requesting flexible working, currently parents with children up to the age of 16 (18 if the child is disabled) can request flexible working providing they have been working with the company for 26 weeks. Although your request has got to be taken seriously, your employer does not have to approve this request. The government intend to legislate to give everyone the right to request flexible hours, changing shifts, varying start and finish times and working from home.

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