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Proposed changes to flexible working, and flexible parental leave - what do you think?

(78 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Aug-11 11:55:32

Hello

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills have asked if we'd like to contribute to their Modern Workplaces Consultation, which contains proposals for changes to flexible working and flexible parental leave (as well as updates to equal pay, and to working time regulation). 

Possibly the most significant of the proposed changes concern statutory maternity pay (or maternity allowance), and maternity leave - the idea is that the existing system would be partly replaced with a statutory parental pay and parental leave allowance, to be taken by either parent.  Have a quick look at the executive summary for the detail.

You can let the government know what you think about these proposed changes by filling out their surveys on flexible parental leave, and flexible working. Do also post your thoughts here on the thread - we'll be passing it forward to BIS on Monday 8th August, when the consultation closes.

Crumblemum Thu 04-Aug-11 12:28:19

Gawd, I would love parental pay - would be really a good way of stopping the Lord Sugar... 'you'd be mad to employ a woman of a certain age' mentatility. But it MUST be paid at a proper rate. It's ridiculous to assume a family can survive if either (but sadly, particularly the (usually) better paid father) parents' wages are suddenly cut to the £100ish that paternity leave currently is. If the rate doesn't go up, men won't take it and the whole project will be conveniently written off as a failure.

So in short Yes to parental leave but Yes to properly paid parental leave.

<Breathe>

<Rant over>

strandednomore Thu 04-Aug-11 18:44:06

Until there are more, many, many more decent part-time jobs there will be lots and lots of very highly qualified unhappy woman who would love to go back to work but can't (or don't want to) do it full time. And men who would like to spend more time with their children but have to work full-time because their partners can't get a decent part time job.
That's it really. Everything else is just tinkering around the edges.

KellyKettle Thu 04-Aug-11 19:02:37

I've only glanced at the exec summary but four weeks kept exclusively for each parent would mean if the father didn't want to take any leave the mothers mat leave is reduced by 4 weeks because those weeks were the fathers entitlement.

Sorry for the incoherent post.

I wouldn't support anything which took time off one parent automatically.

MayDayChild Thu 04-Aug-11 20:10:50

For a start include self employed fathers on the statutory paternity pay like maternity allowance gives.

nowwearefour Thu 04-Aug-11 20:16:29

i think it is brilliant to be able to have the option to choose which parent will be taking the time off, but to take time off of one if the other doesnt take it is crazy. I would have wanted it all as i chose to breastfeed and my dh wouldnt have managed that, no matter how hard he tried.

DuelingFanjo Thu 04-Aug-11 20:19:20

who else are they consulting? Why did they choose mumsnet?

breatheslowly Thu 04-Aug-11 20:46:46

As someone who will require a CS for any subsequent babies I would really value the opportunity to have more overlapping time, so DH could take 6 weeks while I recovered and help with the new baby and DD.

Meglet Thu 04-Aug-11 22:09:29

I haven't had time to look at it all (will do it this weekend). But I'd be interested to see if this makes things easier for working single parents (It had better!).

EightiesChick Thu 04-Aug-11 22:17:45

I assume the thinking behind 4 weeks minimum being mandatory for each parents is that otherwise some men will just take none at all and carry on in the standard way. I can see some value in that. Overlapping time would be good and might help with that, so there could be a handover period between parents. I like the general idea that leave could be taken by either parent though I haven't yet read the detail.

DuelingFanjo Thu 04-Aug-11 22:18:17

"Although parental leave will be available during and after the first year of the child’s life, we propose that, to ease administration, pay will not be available beyond the child’s first birthday"

what is the current situation? Is this a change?

LeninGrad Thu 04-Aug-11 22:42:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

afussyphase Thu 04-Aug-11 23:14:47

I think the pay needs to be considerably improved, and that it's a great idea to have flexibility for either parent to take it. However, if the total amount of time with liveable pay is still something ridiculously tiny like 16 weeks, and any at all gets taken off the mother's leave, it would make it even harder to breastfeed - even 14, 15 weeks is so little to go into childcare and pumping doesn't work for everyone or all workplaces. (And breastfeeding is really not the only reason that you might want to be able to spend more than 14 weeks focussing on your new baby!)
Also I have heard that even in settings where men have better parental leave rights, they often can't/won't take it - partly because of poor pay no doubt, partly because it's more stigmatised for men, resulting in it being harder to maintain status at work and so on. So some public engagement would be needed around this. Naturally, improved pay would probably improve the perceived status.
And yes, it would be great if we could start to change the attitude that women of childbearing age are a risk (for employers). And I think it would be just great if fathers could be more involved with babies right from the start. Two weeks is really just crazy, and sets up family life so that the mums do more (not always, obviously, but as a rule); these patterns can persist for years.

jellybeans Thu 04-Aug-11 23:34:49

It just seems to me yet another attempt to get all mums into work, in fact it says as much. Many studies show mums of young children want to work less not more! Seems to be seeing the Swedish model as an ideal when there are problems there too. I also worry about the 'mothers period' being put back to 18 weeks (Ok I know they can have the parental share too) but I have a bad feeling that any extra can eventually be taken away if it doesn't work or the economy 'can't afford it'.

Yes I think the leave should be there to be shared (with a greater deal for the mother's recovery) when parents need to but I don't think ALL parents should be pushed into this. We're not all in the same mould as Clegg.

Yes I am a stay home mum and very happy thank you despite my 'disattatchment to the workforce'. I only took mat leave with DD1. We both worked and earned less together than what DH earns alone now. Working less (if you can afford to) is a good thing if you want to!!

So I am very cynical of these proposals and very worried that women and mothers will lose out. I thought the longer period of leave we have now was really good for women (I only got 18 weeks back then).

HerBeX Fri 05-Aug-11 00:02:11

Hmmm. How do these proposals support exclusive breastfeeding in the first 24 weeks, which is what the DoH recommends?

I think it's great to have proper paid paternity leave. But not at the expense of maternity leave. I wouldn't like to see maternity leave stealthily cut away.

stickylittlefingers Fri 05-Aug-11 02:05:14

I am very happy to see anything that normalises the father taking a caring role - I dislike the Lord Sugar comment on my own account, but also the way it assumes that DP cannot be taking on any of the childcare responsibility.

I agree with the previous posters though, with regard to pay and any implication of cutting maternity leave by stealth.

KellyKettle Fri 05-Aug-11 04:32:44

Yes HerBex it won't support exclusive bf and if partners don't want the time then their 4 weeks is lost.

Anecdotally, I find that most woman aren't in a rush to get back to work when their babies are small unless they have to for financial reasons.

I think the proposals are more about cutting mat leave by stealth (knowing most men won't take their month off with the baby on derisory pat pay) and getting women back to work.

I also would like to see more overlapping leave, particularly in light on the postnatal campaign thread that's going on at the moment. 2 weeks pat leave is nothing.

inmysparetime Fri 05-Aug-11 07:45:24

On the subject of flexible working, I would like to see a flexible working entitlement for parents of school aged children to work flexibly across not just a week but across the whole year, e.g. Work more days in term time weeks, then fewer or none in school holidays. I work in a day nursery, and approached my employer with a proposal to job share across a year with a TA who wanted holiday work. My boss refused on the grounds it would set a precedent, and other staff would want to do it.

HerBeX Fri 05-Aug-11 08:46:48

That's not a legal reason for refusal, inmysparetime.

Employers have to have a genuine business case for refusal and "it would set a precedent" isn't a genuine business case.

I agree I think all parents should have the right to request flexible working, not just mothers.

HarrietJones Fri 05-Aug-11 08:51:09

6m for mother/6 m for either would work better. Dh took redundancy just before dd3 was born & we were both at home for 6months. This was fantastic for his bond with her, I could concentrate on feeding while he 'ran' the house & sorted dd1/2 out. I also had a section & severe SPD which didn't go ( v slow improvement) so was incapacitated for a while anyway.

The pay is an issue and also since dh took redundancy he wasn't entitled to the 2 weeks paternity pay which had it been maternity pay he would have been entitled to maternity allowance. This is a loophole which is unfair.

HarrietJones Fri 05-Aug-11 08:52:04

All parents can request flexible working. Just most men don't !

Lorelai Fri 05-Aug-11 08:54:09

HerBeX - all parents do have the right to request flexible working, or at least all parents of children under 16 anyway. It is not limited to mothers.

HerBeX Fri 05-Aug-11 09:11:59

oh right I had no idea. I just assumed that they didn't have the right to request it, seeing as how none of them do.

That's pretty shocking actually I need a cup of tea to deal with that info. grin

drcrab Fri 05-Aug-11 09:21:02

My DH's practice was the most diabolical one.. When he said he had to leave on time to get home to help with kids and home stuff, they said 'oh we didn't know you were the main caregiver'. This was even though he worked an hour away, and he wasn't asking to leave early. Plus I work full time and was the one doing the pick ups from nursery.

From what I understand of Norwegian colleagues, over there they get full pay for 8 months and then 80% pay for the next 4. And dads get similar deals too. Danish people I know took parental leave, got really well paid and managed to spend their parental leave time traveling/living in Australia!!

When I was recently in Sweden for work purposes it was refreshing to see on a regular weekday many dads with young kids and/or push chairs around... Unlike over here where it seems to be an anomaly if dads turned up at playgroup, music classes or whatever! DH has been to these activities and yes occasionally we see one dad amongst a group of 8 other mums! grin

My DH will be redundant from his job as of today... And I think he's relishing some children-daddy time on top of starting his own practice. I'm looking forward to more family time. Hopefully meal times will be less fraught with both of us home by 6!

Iggly Fri 05-Aug-11 09:31:15

Well I'm dubious as I can imagine it's a stealth way of cutting maternity pay <suspicious of Tories emoticon>

Seriously though, dads should be encouraged to take parental leave but whether this works, we'll see. Perhaps there could be moves towards having more flexibility for special leave when kids are older to make it easier when mums/dads have to take time out eg if kids are ill at school.

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