Flexible parental leave from 2015: how it will work

2 December 2013

New dads will be able to take up to 50 weeks’ parental leave to look after their babies in their first year, under new proposals to be introduced in 2015.

Under the new system, employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, but will now be able to opt to end the maternity leave after two weeks, and transfer onto flexible parental leave – which can be taken by either parent.

Mums and dads on flexible parental leave will be able to take the leave in turns or together, provided they take no more than 52 weeks combined in total.

For example, the mother could take the first eight months, with the father taking the remaining four months; or the mother could return to work for a period in the middle of the year with the father taking care of the child at that time; or they could choose to both stay at home together with the child, for up to 6 months.

Mothers will have to take at least two weeks (or four weeks if they are manual workers) before they can return to work to make sure they have appropriate time to recover from the birth. They will be able to opt into the flexible parental leave system at any point after the initial two-week post-birth recovery period.

The Government will consult in 2014 on the detail of how the new system will be administered, but it has already confirmed that parents will be required to provide a self-certified notice of their leave entitlement to their employers, giving them a minimum of eight weeks’ notice of intention to take flexible parental leave.

There will be a new statutory payment for parents on flexible parental leave, with the same qualifying requirements that currently apply to statutory maternity and paternity pay. It will be left to each parent and their employer to agree between themselves the pattern of leave.

From 2015 fathers will also have a new right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments. Statutory paternity leave will remain at two weeks, but the Government has said it will ‘keep this under review and look at extending this period once the economy is in a stronger position’.



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