The Parental Leave Shake-up

In 2017 we ran a campaign The Big Conversation highlighting a range of issues relating to families, parents and the workplace, one of which was shared parental leave.

Two years on we are pleased to report that the Government has launched a consultation on parental leave entitlements to encourage greater equality. The three area are as follows:

  • Consultation description – Parental leave and pay
    High level options for reforming existing entitlements which could help parents to balance the gender division of parental leave.
  • Neonatal leave and pay
    Proposals for a new leave and pay entitlement for parents of babies that require neonatal care after birth.
  • Transparency of flexible working and family related leave and pay policies
    Considers options for requiring large employers (those with 250 or more employees) to publish their family related leave and pay and flexible working policies.

Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser for the CIPD, comments:

“We welcome this consultation and fully support the need to update parental leave policies to better reflect the changing nature of modern families and progress gender equality at work. We know take up of shared parental leave especially is low and so discussion of possible reforms is a step in the right direction. The current arrangements don’t go far enough to allow many fathers to take an active role in being with their child in the early days or to allow families balance and choice over how they share caring responsibilities during the first year of a child’s life. Having this choice is also essential if we are to address the ‘motherhood penalty’ many women face in their working life, in terms of pay and progression.

“Pay is often called out as a limiting factor behind the poor take up of paternity and shared parental leave, and many people simply don’t feel able to take the leave because of concerns it will reflect a lack of commitment and could undermine their career progression. Government action to pinpoint and address the sticking points must be coupled with employer action to create cultures where people feel comfortable and confident to request paternity leave and shared parental leave. A crucial step is training managers, so they know people’s rights. We also know that seeing is believing so it’s important that businesses have role models at a senior level who have taken such leave and we believe it’s good practice that businesses publish parental leave policies on their website as well as making them easily accessible internally.

“Greater employer provision of flexible working is essential to help families balance caring responsibilities within and beyond a child’s first year. By thinking more creatively about the types of flexible working they can offer, and ensuring it’s available at all levels of seniority, employers are more likely to hold on to talented people who can progress their careers with the organisation. Our recently-published guidance on ways to implement flexible working provides cross-sector examples for employers.

“Discussion of neonatal leave and pay is also an important step forward. At a stressful and difficult time, forward-thinking employers should make it possible for partners to be present with their family.”

Parts of this article were first published as a press release by the CIPD on 19 July 2019. Read the press release here

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