Proposals to allow parents to share parental leave put on hold

The government has put its proposals for parents to share maternity and paternity leave on hold as it reviews the costs and benefits of introducing new regulations in the current economic conditions.

The proposals, which were expected to be introduced this year, would allow mothers and fathers to share a year of parental leave. This would mean that fathers would be able to take six months leave after the mother’s first six months.

A spokesman from the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) said: “We have not yet announced a date for extending maternity and paternity rights. We are continuing to review the appropriateness of all new regulations due to come into force in the current economic climate. It is only right that in tough economic times we look afresh at the costs and benefits of new regulations”.

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), welcomed the news.

He said: “The bureaucratic burdens involved in allowing mothers and fathers to share parental leave have always concerned us. In most cases parents work for different companies – making the administration of the measure potentially very complicated. What would have been cumbersome in good times could become the straw that breaks the camel’s back in a recession – and could damage the long-term business case for better work-life balance.

“We believe there remains a strong case for more generous paternity leave in the medium term. Without some improvement in paternity leave, the growing political consensus on the need to tackle the gender pay gap will not deliver results. The demographics of the workplace are changing. A greater proportion of women are now working and this trend is set to continue. Responding to these changes requires political leadership.”