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Nick Clegg announces changes to parental leave today - What do you think?

(155 Posts)
JaneGMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Nov-12 09:41:33


Justine has been asked to comment on Sky News and BBC News about the changes to parental leave announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg:

The changes include:

- Parents will be able to share parental leave - so after the mother takes the initial two weeks after the birth, parents will be able to divide up the remaining 50 weeks between them as they wish.

- Fathers will gain a new right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments.

- Paternity leave will remain at two weeks, to be reviewed in 2018.

- The Government will legislate to extend the Right to Request Flexible working to all employees, not just parents. So, for example, grandparents could apply for flexible working to help care for their grandchildren.

What do you think? We'd really value your views on these changes.

Many thanks,


armedtotheteeth Tue 13-Nov-12 10:11:01

I think the best part is that parents will be able to take their leave both at the same time if they wish - so for example they could both have month off together initially then decide who would take the remaining 10 months. This means that women who want or need extra support (particularly mothers of twins, women with a history of post-natal depression, etc) can have it.

TheMysteryCat Tue 13-Nov-12 10:23:01

Universal rights to flexible working is a very good idea. The way we work and where we work has changed so much that this would be reasonable. It is still very much the employers' right refuse, which is fine.

In combination with shared mat/pat leave, this will hopefully reduce the stigma for mothers.

I am concerned though about the impact on breast feeding. Our bf rates are already shocking and there's nothing in here to protect or promote bf.

Paternity leave is far too short. This needs addressing.

TheBlackShiksa Tue 13-Nov-12 10:23:49

But it all depends on whether you're working or not - so if you were unemployed your partner gets no paternity rights. And thats assuming your partner is male- what about same sex couples? No clarity on that- this is a dud proposal masquerading as progress.

LittleWhiteWolf Tue 13-Nov-12 10:39:51

I can sort of see why they've left paternity leave at 2 weeks as it compares with the 2 weeks mothers have to take, then they can divvy up the remainder of the leave. However, I personally was in no fit state to do anything after the first 2 weeks and IME the 3rd and 4th weeks are the hardest. I would like to see paternity leave extended to 6 weeks, so that the entire newborn stage is covered.

Unpaid leave for 2 antenatal appointments? Well, that'll be the two scans I guess. My DH came to those anyway, using annual leave. So under this legislation he could use that right for those scans. Except that even in my two very normal pregnancies, both times I was very fat and tired at the end and didn't like to drive. I had sweeps with both of my DCs which left me feeling very uncomfortable and with DD who was born in July I was prone to feeling very faint and woozy in the heat with my low bp. So DH took time off in the last few weeks to drive me to my appointments and sweeps, therefore this would not be enough. I can imagine for parents with high risk pregnancies the desire for her to want some support and for him to be involved would be much greater and again 2 appointments would not be enough.

I do very much like the parental leave changing so that it becomes more shared, though. As for the rest, its a good start but IMO more needs to follow.

GreenMonkies Tue 13-Nov-12 10:44:44

Yes, brilliant. Because we all know how fit for work you are two weeks post-partum, and men are so brilliant at lactating...... Oh wait, no.

I am shock at anyone even suggesting returning to work 14 days after giving birth, your body isn't healed for a good 4-8 weeks, and to suggest it is to make it sound like we should be able to do it, like it's a desirable thing. For a govt that's claiming to support breastfeeding and promoting increases in breastfeeding rates this shoots it in the foot. Sharing parental leave yes, nice idea, but lots of this proposal is seriously flawed and needs a big rethink.

StuntNun Tue 13-Nov-12 10:45:08

In general a good move, in that a reform of parental leave is required, particularly when you compare the UK to other countries (obviously not the US of course). As they stand however, the proposed changes will result in women being forced back to work only two weeks after giving birth which is completely unacceptable. The mother may not be physically able to return to work but may feel she has to, for example in a small company, and childcare for a two-week-old baby will be hard to find.

Tee2072 Tue 13-Nov-12 10:49:25

It's crap unless they are going to raise the amount you get paid by the State while on leave.

There is no way we could survive without my husband's full income as opposed to surviving without mine when I went on leave. Like it or not, in most houses men make more money and so dropping them down to, what? £500 a month? Whatever it is does not make it possible for men to take Leave.

Sorry. But it doesn't.

It also doesn't affect me as I'm done having children. But I think this whole thing is just lip service to equal rights.

MiauMau Tue 13-Nov-12 10:51:28

Where we work, they gave DP those two days as paid leave, it's not like it is the whole day anyway

dreamingofsun Tue 13-Nov-12 10:53:44

should reduce the bias against women of childbearing age maybe and make companies more flexible if they have to allow men leave etc as well.

In reality would make absolutely no difference to us as husband has his own company and couldn't afford to take time off. well obviously for the birth and a few days after, but thats all.

TinkerTills Tue 13-Nov-12 10:54:07

I really hope this happens, parental leave needs reforming.

The two week rule already exists and has the delightful name of "confinement"!! Its illegal for a woman to return to work before this confinement period. I don't think anyone is suggesting that a woman should return to work at 2 weeks (although some HAVE to for finances - single parents, self-employed etc).

I shouted at Breakfast news this morning when an email was read out from a "small business owner" who complained that this will cripple them. Grrr, only if you're entire workforce is male??? And i am highly suspicious of any workforce that is entirely male - even in typically male areas there are usually woman. I mean, who makes them tea and answers phones ;-) Several friends of mine who own small businesses have openly admitted that they do not interview/ recruit women due to the maternity leave problem... as far as I am concerned Nick Clegg's announcements therefore deals with two HUGE inequalities women still face: small employers will have to stop discriminating at interview and women can return to work and have the father (or other parent) look after the baby.

PseudoBadger Tue 13-Nov-12 10:54:57

I hope that women won't feel pressured to return after two weeks by some employers.

sleepyhead Tue 13-Nov-12 10:55:37

Hang on, women can return to work 2 weeks postpartum already. That's the minimum you currently have to take.

So it's a complete red herring that this will force women back then. It doesn't seem to currently (I don't know of anyone except ultra high flying professionals a la Xenia who has done this), so the only difference is that your dp could care for the baby rather than other childcare, if that's what you want to do.

I think it's great. Currently women who have to return to work early for financial reasons, or want to return to work, have to find childcare for their babies. This lets the other parent take on the primary carer role. It makes perfect sense to me.

Most of the people who will be affected by this change would have been returning anyway and putting their child into childcare, so I don't think the bf issue actually applies. The status quo doesn't encourage women to bf for six months - many women can't afford to stay at home on SMP that long.

sleepyhead Tue 13-Nov-12 10:58:53

And many women in this country earn more than their partners. With less of a presumption that women will stay at home with their children this may increase.

I get that it's no use if your partner is a much higher earner, but equally the status quo left many families where the female partner was the much higher earner with very few choices about taking leave at all.

MrsStark Tue 13-Nov-12 10:59:43

I can see it being a terrifying prospect for small/medium who employ. I was speaking to a guy who was recruiting recently, the fact was that he simply couldn't afford for one of their employees to go on maternity leave (he would very much like to be in a position to afford it). He said at the moment it would probably be too much and send them under.

On the other hand, I think that business should move to operate on a more flexible basis, the work ethic in this country is so family un-friendly IMO.

MrsStark Tue 13-Nov-12 11:00:43

...small/medium business owners who employ even!

thereonthestair Tue 13-Nov-12 11:06:54

I think it's a good idea but there are a few flaws in it, for example my DH could never do this despite his being employed, because I am self employed. I earn more but these rights do nothing for us because of my self employed status.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 13-Nov-12 11:12:31

I think unequal earnings between partners is a bit of a red herring. This is not a measure aimed at equalizing earnings - nor should it be. It just opens the door to a greater number of arrangements. Long overdue.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 13-Nov-12 11:14:56

Oh, and it really shouldn't be any sort of additional problem for small businesses. If a small business owner can't work out that splitting the same amount of leave between two people rather than allotting it all to one person leaves them in a net same position as they are in now, they probably shouldn't be running a business at all.

It may potentially leave SMEs who've deliberately discriminated against women in their recruitment up the swanny, but frankly that's quite funny.

Lottapianos Tue 13-Nov-12 11:18:37

A surprising number of people seem to see pregnancy and maternity leave as a gross self-indulgence and seem to imagine that the whole of ML is spent lounging around on cushions, having manicures and eating peeled grapes. I think the only thing that will change that perception is if/when men start to take similar amounts of parental leave to women - parenting would be more likely to be seen as a normal part of life and a perfectly reasonable thing to do, rather than an aberration. Hopefully their would be a cultural change as people would find it harder to put all the responsibility for childcare on women. And employers who discriminate against women of 'child bearing age' (ugh) would have to think twice. I hope it will make the workplace fairer for all.

mumzy Tue 13-Nov-12 11:22:28

How is this to be funded. Even in my area of the public sector Existing staff are now having to cover maternity leave rather than paying someone to provide cover. I see it as another one of the lib dems pie in the sky promises like the no tuition fees debacle. When will he ever learn!

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 13-Nov-12 11:26:26

The announcement is that it's happening from 2015, mumzy. They're in government, it's not really the same thing as a "promise". It's an announcement.

I can't see Labour abandoning it if they get back in in 2015, by the way, in fact I think they readily came into line with the idea when it was first mooted a few years ago.

sleepyhead Tue 13-Nov-12 11:28:39

Mumzy - it's the same amount of leave as before. It's just (potentially) being shared between two people.

If the mother returns to work at 6 weeks then she will be back in her job. If the father then takes leave from 6 weeks to a year then he'll be away from his job. No different than if the mother had take a full year's leave.

I guess you could see a higher number of couples being able to utilise the year's leave available to them by law. But it's always been a possibility for an employer that a pregnant employee will take a year's leave and they have to, even under the current legislation, plan accordingly.

This spreads the risk a bit for employers with predominantly female workforces. E.g my public sector employer will see me back at work 6 months earlier than they would have done before parental leave could be shared. My husband's private sector employee will lose him for 6 months, swings and roundabouts.

bealos Tue 13-Nov-12 11:28:49

This is RUBBISH. "Paternity leave will remain at two weeks, to be reviewed in 2018." Reviewed in 2018??!! All this tosh about equal rights. Government not really doing as they say.

And I can't believe this isn't a right already. Gasp. "Fathers will gain a new right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments."

sleepyhead Tue 13-Nov-12 11:28:58

private sector employer..

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