New proposals on parental leave

New proposals on parental leave

New coalition proposals will mean that parents will soon be able to share maternity leave and pay.

The plans, which are set to be unveiled by David Cameron and Nick Clegg later this month, will mean that the mother, if she is the main breadwinner in the family, will be able to return to work after just two weeks with the father staying at home and claiming what is to be termed “flexible parental leave”.

The current scheme sees new mums receive 90% of their earnings for the first six weeks after birth and then get maternity allowance equivalent to 90% of their earnings or £135.45 a week, whichever is lower, for a further 33 weeks. Fathers can take a fortnight’s parental leave but the mother is able to transfer the leave to the father after six months. However, under the new proposals, which will not come into effect until 2015, either parent can claim parental leave and the allowance after just two weeks.

A spokeswoman from the campaign group Maternity Action, called it a long overdue change, which will increase flexibility to offer families real choices about managing work and caring responsibilities. However, she criticised the delay until 2015, which is reportedly due to coalition differences about the effects the proposals will have on business.