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Government plans to introduce shared maternity and paternity leave could be delayed until October 2015, according to a national newspaper.Changes that would enable mothers and fathers to share maternity leave more flexibly were announced in last year’s Modern Workplaces consultation, which suggested bringing in the new rules by April 2015.But a senior government source, quoted by the Telegraph newspaper on Friday has suggested that any introduction of new rules could be pushed back to October because of concerns about the impact on businessesThe new rules would entitled couples with a new baby to a total of 58 weeks of leave, with 22 weeks reserved for the mother, six reserved for the father and the remaining 30 weeks to be shared between the parents as they choose. New parents could also decide to take their leave simultaneously and choose to request leave in blocks of any duration, although employers would also have the right to refuse.However, this latest media report suggests that plans have been pushed back after a row among Cabinet colleagues over the impact on business.A senior government source told the newspaper: “This is being introduced slowly and with great care to ensure that it does not undermine business during the difficult economic times.“But it was a Coalition pledge and it is important to both the Prime Minister and the Liberal Democrats that both parents should be supported to spend time with their new children.”The newspaper also reported that official government figures said that 420,000 families could benefit from the opportunity to move leave from one parent to other, allowing the main earner, if the mother, to transfer leave to her partner. But alternative estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS), shown to the home affairs sub-committee of the Cabinet in September, suggested a much lower figure of up to 13,500 families. Finalised plans are expected to be announced later this month.But a DBIS spokesperson said: "We do not comment on leaked documents. The government made a clear commitment for plans for flexible parental leave in the Coalition Agreement. We consulted on proposals last year and will respond shortly."Commenting on the societal impacts of introducing flexible parental leave, Michelle Chance, employment partner at Kingsley Napley and co-founder of the Association of Professional Working Parents (APWP), said: "Issues that have traditionally been female only issues will now become parental issues such as the impact of an extended period of parental leave on career progression, pay and bonus, and we are likely to see more litigation from male employees in this area unless employers adapt their culture as well as their policies.
"Employers should embrace these changes as happy employees with a good work/life balance will be more loyal and productive which means more profit for employers, which is a win/win for both parties."
This is an absolute travesty! I have just as many conversations with men concerned on the impact of their work on their family life and children, who'd love to take some time out or longer paternity leave, as with women. The difference is that the men are absolutely petrified that it will have a detrimental impact on their careers - time to stop this level of inequality. In my mind, both parents should have an equal right to take leave on the birth of a baby / adoption etc
Other countries around the world manage to enable parents to share the care of their new children and the administration is managed without too much hassle. New Zealand being a good example. I believe this hesitation shows a deep belief by UK businesses and government that male employees are valued more highly than their female colleagues. I think this is an essential change for the workplace if there is ever going to be gender equality in this context.
How do they think businesses will be able to manager the administration of this?