Workplace rights: Modern parenting

The Government is pressing ahead with plans for a new system of shared parental leave, available to mothers and fathers equally. What does this mean?

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The thinking is that, despite paternity leave reforms last year, employment rights in this area entrench the assumption that the mother should be the primary carer early in a child's life. The new scheme is likely to entail the mother taking 18 weeks' leave at or around the birth, with the remainder of the current 52-week maternity leave period being reclassified as 'parental leave' to be taken flexibly by either parent.

If this goes through, it will represent a major legislative nod towards greater equity in childcare, but there will still be a practical disincentive for would-be stay-at-home dads. Any leave they take under the proposed regime would be paid at a flat weekly rate, capped at £135.45, or else unpaid.

This is unlikely to be financially attractive, except where the mother is the major earner.


Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors, email:

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