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New Rights for Families

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BIS Department for Business Innovation and Skills - Expert Author

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Issued 15 September 2009

Families are set to benefit from new leave rights that will give more choice and flexibility to parents as to how they use maternity and paternity leave.

The Government will consult shortly on new regulations that will give families greater flexibility in how they choose to look after their children. This new provision will be available during the second six months of the child’s life and would be an option if the mother has maternity leave outstanding.

Business Minister Pat McFadden said:

“Since 1997 we have transformed the help available to new parents with increased maternity pay and leave and the introduction of paternity leave. As a new dad I appreciate the importance of this help to families, and now we propose to go further, by giving mothers and fathers more choice as to how they use the leave available. This will give families important flexibility and choice.

“The number of businesses affected is expected to be small – less than 1% of small businesses – and we will work with business to make sure any changes are introduced in a way that minimises burdens and gives them predictability in the provision of leave. As family friendly policies have been introduced we have seen more retention of mothers in their current jobs when they go back to work.”

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said:

“Mothers will be able to choose to transfer the last six months of their maternity leave to the father, with three months paid. This gives families radically more choice and flexibility in how they balance work and care of children, and enables fathers to play a bigger part in bringing up their children.

“We’ve doubled maternity leave; doubled maternity pay; introduced paternity leave; more than doubled good quality affordable childcare places; and introduced right to request flexible working.

“This is a further family friendly policy.”

The scheme has been designed in a way that minimises the administrative burdens on business. In order to give employers time to adjust it will be introduced for parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011. Estimated take-up of Additional Paternity Leave is less than 6 per cent and it is estimated that take up will affect 0.7 per cent, or 1 in every 137, of all small businesses.

Under the new scheme:

Families will have the choice to transfer up to six months leave to the father should they want to, which can be taken by the father once the mother has returned to work;This new provision will be available during the second six months of the child’s life, giving parents the option of dividing a period of paid leave entitlement between themSome of the leave may be paid if taken during the mother’s 39 week maternity pay period. This would be paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay (currently £123.06);Parents will be required to “self certify” by providing details of their eligibility to their employer. Employers and HMRC will both be able to carry out further checks of entitlement if necessary.

Notes

1 Employed fathers are currently entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave and mothers to 52 weeks maternity leave, of which up to 39 weeks are paid. Employed parents are also entitled to a total of 13 weeks unpaid parental leave until the child’s fifth birthday. Parents of children aged 16 and under have the right to request flexible working. These rights will not be affected by the introduction of additional paternity leave.

2 The Government had a goal to introduce Additional Paternity Leave and Pay before the end of this Parliament. A consultation on draft regulations will be launched soon. Subject to consultation and parliamentary procedure, the Government intends that the law be in force by April 2010 and have effect for parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011.

3 Legislation already delivered by Government includes the extension of Statutory Maternity Leave from six to nine months and increased Statutory Maternity Pay from £60.20 a week in 2001 to £123.06 now, the largest increase in maternity allowance since 1948 and the introduction of Statutory Paternity Leave.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

Contacts:

BIS Press Office
NDS.BIS@coi.gsi.gov.uk
 

Matthew Barker
Phone: 020 7215 5946
Matthew.Barker@bis.gsi.gov.uk


About the Author

© Crown Copyright. Material taken from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use Licence.



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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-11-25 13:36:40 in Employee Articles

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