For those that haven’t been following the news, new legislation came in to force yesterday (in the UK) which changes the way parents can use maternity/paternity leave. The new rules, devised by the last Government and held up by the current one, mean that fathers can now share a portion of the mother’s maternity leave entitlement. Here’s the rules in a nutshell:
- The new rules mean the father is now allowed to take a lot more than the previous 2-week entitlement -up to 26 more weeks, in fact.
- They can only take the additional 26 weeks AFTER the initial 20 weeks which the mother generally takes – and must be once the mother has herself gone back to work.
- The rules also apply to adoptions.
- How much your employer chooses to pay you is dependent, but the minimum statutory paternity pay will be £128.73 a week, or 90% of average weekly earnings if that is less.
- In order to qualify, the father must have been on a continuous contract with his employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due.
Whilst this is a promising start, how it gets treated by employers is yet to be seen. Whilst the statutory leave is a great minimum to be able to rely on, there is nothing to stop business owners putting pressure on fathers not to take this leave – though I suppose that’s the same for maternity leave.
Nick Clegg has promised that these new rules will just be the start, with laws planned for 2015 which will also mean you can share entitlement with grandparents or other carers.
Personally, I’ve still not formulated my opinion on this, so I’m keen to hear what others think. As a working father I’m very keen to have more time off to help with the new baby when it comes along, though I’m lucky enough to work for an employer who treats new parents very well. Others won’t be so lucky, though, so it remains to be seen how many fathers will take up this new entitlement. Let me know your thoughts!