Parental Leave – Who Should Bring Up the Child?

With so much debate surrounding maternity and paternity leave, we look at the major changes that could be affecting the parental leave policy. Should parental leave be split between both parents?

This alteration in the parental leave policy could potentially mean that new mums have the option to go back to work much sooner than they would otherwise have done. This new change would mean men can spend more quality time with their newborns.

The current policy allows mothers to take up to 12 months leave, of these 12 months, 9 months are paid and the remaining months are unpaid. New dads can only take two weeks.

The main reason for this change is to recognise that modern women have careers and can earn more than the male meaning it is more worthwhile for the man to stay at home while the woman becomes the breadwinner.

Parents welcome this change. The leave can be used anywhere between 20 weeks and the child’s first birthday. It can be very possible to take the leave off together so that time can be spent as a family.

A consultation was launched in 2011 and the suggestion that was given was new mothers would automatically be given five months maternity leave and the current leave for dads would be increased to six weeks. This is a great change and would be well received by new parents. A further seven months would be split between the mother and dad. It is worth noting that the final three months from the additional seven would be paid at statutory leave. The amount of this is dependent on the current rate. This consultation however has bought on lots of debate and mainly by companies.

Many small companies especially in today’s economic climate are objecting to this change as it could potentially cost thousands. Small companies are struggling due to increases in expenses and dropping sales and do not have the monies to pay out on additional maternity and paternity leave.

There are other arguments surrounding this potential change in leave. There is an argument that the baby should be with its mother for the first year of its life to give time for both the baby and mother to bond. The man’s job is to be the breadwinner and bring in the money for the family.

Taking into consideration all these arguments and views from different groups of people, the changes to parental leave can been delayed to October 2015, with the main reason being the disruption it would cause to small and medium sized companies. This is a welcoming delay by companies with the hope that the economic position is going to improve.

Any changes that do happen would need to be introduced on a gradual basis to not to affect companies too much during these difficult times. This policy would take time to develop to ensure it is robust enough to prevent parents trying to claim at the same time.