Blog | 'Shared Parental Leave will help build a family friendly workplace' by Jo Swinson MP, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs

AnnaHope | 23 Oct

It’s particularly fitting in Family Friendly week to have the opportunity to talk about the introduction of Shared Parental Leave - a move that will make the UK workplace a more family-friendly environment.

Up until now, families have had very limited options when it comes to juggling the demands of work with the arrival of a new baby. The system reinforced the archaic assumptions that the bulk of childcare responsibilities should be done by mums, and failed to recognise the vitally important role that dads and partners have to play.

But from April 2015 parents will have real choice in how they share caring for their baby and time off work in the first year of their child’s life.

We all know that every family has its own unique set of circumstances, so having a rigid approach to parental leave really doesn’t make sense. Now the new Shared Parental Leave option will give real flexibility and choice to parents. Mothers and adopters will be able to choose when they return to work and fathers and partners will be able to spend more time bonding with their children during the precious early stages of their development.
Under the new rules, mums will still take at least two weeks of maternity leave immediately after birth, but after that working couples have the opportunity to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.

A couple might opt for dad to take the entire 50-weeks of Shared Parental Leave or to take an extra three or four weeks at home just after baby is born. A mum might take the first four months, with dad taking over when she goes back to work, or a couple could opt to stay at home together for up to 6 months. Each family can now work out what will work best for them.

Shared Parental Leave will help to create a family-friendly culture in the workplace where it is just as normal for fathers and partners to take on childcare responsibilities as mothers. 

And the policy is just one strand of a wider programme of family friendly measures that the government has introduced to provide greater flexibility and opportunities for parents and families - including the Right to Request Flexible Working and increased access to childcare and free school meals which will help build a stronger economy and a fairer society in the UK.

For more information about Shared Parental Leave and to check your eligibility, visit www.gov.uk/sharedparentalleave

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