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Government propose new system of shared parental leave - but will employers be left holding the baby?

23 May 2011

The Coalition government has set out its proposals for a “radical” new system of parental leave from 2015 in its Modern Workplace Consultation. The government plan to replace the current maternity, paternity and parental leave scheme with a system that aims to give parents greater choice and to facilitate shared parenting.

Proposals include preserving the existing paid maternity and paternity leave period but allowing for more flexibility. The proposals suggest that after 18 weeks, maternity leave be reclassified as “parental leave” which either parent can take off. Both parents would be able to take leave at the same time if they wanted to, and/or book it off in blocks.

We expect there will be concerns from employers about the practicalities of dividing leave to be taken up in one or more separate blocks, however, employers would be able to insist that leave should be taken over a continuous period if an agreement cannot be met.

The consultation period ends on 8 August 2011.

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