Five week increase in parental leave not expected to be introduced until 2013… The Government has decided to delay the extension of the right to unpaid parental leave until 2013 as a result of its current commitment to the Modern Workplaces policy.
The Parental Leave Directive states that both parents of a child under the age of five each have the right to take up to a maximum of 18 weeks total leave of absence from work, an increase of five weeks on the current arrangements in the UK.
However this new initiative from the European Council doesn’t come into being until 8 March 2012 and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have already let it be known that they intend delaying implementation of the changes to the existing system for a period of one year in order “to take account of particular difficulties”.
The Government had previously said that the extension to parental leave entitlements would be incorporated into its Modern Workplaces proposals, a policy development consultation plan aimed at modernising workplace laws and regulations so that they more closely reflect the contemporary working environment. However these plans are not expected to come into force until 2015 yet the aim is to introduce the increases in unpaid paternal leave ahead of the Modern Workplaces programme. In effect, government officials are caught in a logistical mishmash as they delay the introduction of the parental leave extension by one year compared with the other countries in Europe yet at the same time promise to enforce it before the Modern Workplaces policies are fully under way in 2015.
Susie Munro, an employment law editor at XpertHR explained the somewhat confused issue:
“The Government is saying that it is necessary to delay the increase to parental leave due to the ongoing Modern Workplaces policy development, although the parental leave increase seems quite straightforward and will still come in more than two years ahead of the changes to family leave proposed in the Modern Workplaces consultation.
“Whether or not the extension to the implementation date is justified is unlikely to be an issue though, as few employees currently take their full entitlement to unpaid parental leave as it is. It is unlikely that there will be much of a push for the increase to be brought forward.”