The Government has set out its proposals for an extension to flexible working rights and maternity, adoption and parental leave.
From 2014, all employees will be entitled to apply for flexible working. Employers, as is the case at present, will not be obliged to agree to this request but will be expected to deal with all requests in a reasonable manner. The current 26 week qualifying period will remain in place.
In relation to maternity rights, the current right to 52 weeks’ maternity leave will remain the same. However, from 2015, parents will be able to share maternity leave pay between themselves. Mothers will be able to end their maternity leave at any point after the two week compulsory maternity leave period and transfer the balance of the maternity leave and pay to their partner, provided that the partner meets the relevant qualifying criteria.
Fathers and partners of pregnant women will also be given the right to take unpaid time off work to attend up to two antenatal appointments with their partner.
Finally, from March 2013, parental leave (which can be at present be taken in the first 5 years of a child’s life) will be extended from its current 13 weeks to 18 weeks. From 2015, the age limit will extend from 5 years to 18 years.