Posted: Monday 23 January 2012
In my previous blog Employment Law in 2012 – What to Expect I mentioned that Government proposals had been outlined in relation to flexible parental leave and flexible working. One effect of the proposals, which are contained in BIS’s Consultation on Modern Workplaces, is that parental leave entitlement would increase from 3 to 4 months.
By way of a refresher, at present 13 weeks parental leave (as opposed to paternity leave which sounds similar but is different) is available to parents of children under the age of 5 and the leave must be taken before the child reaches that age. Remember though that unless the contract of employment says otherwise this time off is unpaid. As such I am not aware of it being widely used.
As I mentioned in my earlier blog, the Government had not suggested a timeframe for the increased parental leave entitlement to take effect. There was speculation that the changes would be effective from March this year because under the EU Parental Leave Directive (2010/18/EU), which was adopted in March 2010, member states were given 2 years in which to increase the parental leave entitlement to 4 months. Under Article 3(2) of the Directive however, member states who require it are permitted an additional period of one year to implement.
It seems that BIS has now provided clarification on this. According to Practical Law Company, who received an update on the position from BIS at the end of last week, the Government intends to take advantage of the additional one year permitted under Article 3(2) which means that it will now implement the Directive in March 2013 as opposed to March 2012. According to PLC, this will allow the Government to thoroughly review parental leave in the context of its consultation. Publication of the Government’s response to the consultation is expected some time at the beginning of this year.
I will keep you posted on any developments in this area.