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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,


sleepyhead Tue 13-Nov-12 13:53:09

Arrrgh!!! No one is asking women to go back to work after 2 weeks! But you can if you want.

And you can if you want right now. This hasn't changed. The only people I've ever heard of going back after 2 weeks are the likes of Nicola Horlicks who make a big virtue of taking business calls mid c-section. They get a nanny to look after the baby just now, but the new legislation means that they could (if they wanted, and their partner wanted) get their partner to look after the baby instead and take parental leave.

Glitterknickaz Tue 13-Nov-12 14:04:16

My only concern would be that women should have more than the initial 2 weeks, they need to physically recover. Otherwise fabulous idea.

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 14:04:56

@olgaga Short of paying women to stay at home and breastfeed for a longer time there isn't much the Gov can do.

Plus, under these arrangements mothers could choose to have their partner at home to support them with breastfeeding (esp if they have other children) while they are on maternity leave. Yes, that may only be an option for the very well off or those with v good maternity pay, but it is a potential choice which wasn't there before.

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 14:05:48

@glitterknickaz "Arrrgh!!! No one is asking women to go back to work after 2 weeks! But you can if you want. And you can if you want right now. This hasn't changed. "

That. And all other posts on the subject.

olgaga Tue 13-Nov-12 14:06:10

Yes, I know - it's just how he has chosen to talk about this as though it was some marvellous offering:

Clegg's legislation changes also mean that mothers will have to take at least the initial two weeks of leave after birth as recovery period. However, after that, the decision of which parent takes time off to care for their new child will be up to them.

As though all the women will be piling back to work and men will be at home trying to bottle-feed a two week old baby with all that breastmilk (so easy to express in those early days)...

Just not convinced this will make any difference to the take-up of paternity leave !

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Nov-12 14:06:19

Dreaminofsun and Dahen I really agree with you - my parents live far too far away to help with childcare even if they were fit enough - but I do think that anything that promotes a flexible working culture has to be good. The old 1950's 9-5 is so out of date that it seems crazy we haven't created a bigger range and more creative ways to working differently throughout our working lives. With career breaks made affordable and possible and opportunities to return to work after a break without having to slide right back down the career ladder.

But even if you're doing it flexibly you're still working not caring for a child so the big question does come back to childcare and the incredibly high costs thereof. That's the elephant in the old room.

That point about what you get coming down to line management comes up again and again in our reviews of Family Friendly members. We fed it back to them last year and this year we have seen some responding - one for example has created a managers toolkit to explain how managers should apply family friendly policies. Another has given every member of staff information. Baby steps but they help I think.

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 14:11:04

I am really quite depressed at the tone of this thread. DP has just texted me thrilled about this as it is something we have been waiting for before having children as I am the main earner.

I think attitudes will change with an increase in awareness. I'm 25 and lots of my male friends have been looking forward to this announcement of ages.

In the nicest way possible do you think the thread is a bit biased as many posters are SAHM and their DP is the main earner so it wont make as big a difference for them. I think this could make a huge difference to loads of women.

I hope in three years time there will be threads saying "AIBU to ask DP to take 6 months parental leave so I can take up a promotion?". Here's hoping!

dreamingofsun Tue 13-Nov-12 14:11:17

the aging population may help. I've had several line managers recently who've had to take time off for ill parents. They can hardly demand this flexibility themselves and then deny people time to look after ill children. i think it encourages them to accept that we are all people and not machines and therefore have a life outside work.

Glitterknickaz Tue 13-Nov-12 14:12:29

Yes 'nobody' is - but what of a family dynamic where a woman was put under unreasonable pressure to return by her partner for whatever reason at the expense of her health?

Glitterknickaz Tue 13-Nov-12 14:13:08

I really do agree with it by the way - I have family doing it this way already (very family friendly company they work for).

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 14:14:45

@glitterknickaz If that is going to be a problem in 2015 then it woudl be a problem now. As nothing is changing. And its not a problem now as far as I am aware.

notenoughsocks Tue 13-Nov-12 14:15:13

small steps, right direction.

I too worry about the actual strength of the request. Being granted the 'right to request' might amount to very little irl, esp in certain industries, particuarly male dominated industries, with a deeply ingrained un-family friendly culture. I know from experience that having a partner in these sorts of industries can practically force couples to adopt 1950s routines.

Not really sure how many fathers/grandparents/aunts/uncles etc. will leap at the chance, but everybody looks like they might be about to, it might help reduce discrimination against women of a certain age.

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Nov-12 14:16:54

Oh please don't be depressed ethelb! I'm old enough to be able to reflect on how far we have come. When my son was born in 1998 there wasn't a right to ask for flexible working. SMP was pathetic - no right to a year's maternity leave (even unpaid) and flexible working meant being allowed to leave on time if you were lucky. No Children's Centres, no free childcare for 2 year olds - we have really made progress. We just need to make it all work better!

Yorkpud Tue 13-Nov-12 14:25:23

Don't really get who is paying for the man to be off if he takes the leave instead of the woman??

So if for example I had a baby and took the intial 6 weeks off for maternity leave, could my husband then take the remainder of the time up to nine months to look after the baby when I go back to work? If so would his company be eligible to pay him (p)maternity leave for that time in the same way they would pay a woman? Therefore, is it more likely for the one in a company that pays a better maternity package to take the majority of time off??

olgaga Tue 13-Nov-12 14:28:21

I really can't see how this will help the majority of parents who will still have the problem of finding affordable childcare long after the parental leave is over.

In my area it's not even that childcare is unaffordable - there's an acute shortage of nursery places and childminders. That's what forces the lowest earner out of work - not a "perception that women have to be the primary care-givers."

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 14:28:36

oh I'll cheer up.

notenoughsocks I also wonder how many grandparents will jump at the chance tbh, plus it will drag up questions about how many rights grandparents have which troubles me a bit tbh.

Plus, my youngest sister is 17, my mum chose to have three children youngish and hire nannies (at great expense) so she could go to work and take promotions, so that when the time came (now) she could power ahead for the rest of her career without having childcare to worry about. She graduated from her PhD last week and her pension won't kick in for another 16 years. She has already told me that she's not looking after any of our babies. And fair enough tbh if they want to keep a roof over their heads in retirement.

Plus I am one of the lucky ones who has quite young parents. People who have their first child late 30s/early 40s won't have parents fit enough to look after their children even if they are retired.

The retirement age is going to be 68 FFS.

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 14:30:27

@yorkpud I wondere whether there will be attacks on that as it is essentially discrimatory of company policy.

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Nov-12 14:32:18 there is an interesting point. The government can only legislate about Statutory leave. So that's what's available for sharing in financial terms. What each employer does about offering an enhanced package to mothers and fathers is going to be good to watch. In theory, if a father works somewhere that offers enhanced maternity pay that doesn't automatically mean that he would get that under the new proposals if he took some of what is currently his partners maternity leave entitlement - but then I don't know how equal opps legislation will affect that. Not clear at the moment.

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 14:34:45

It is interesting, as if that doesn't change employers will still be able to claim that hiring women of 'childbearing age' is 'too expensive'.

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Nov-12 14:36:21

grandparent rights trouble me a tiny bit too. But that's only because I have a bonkers mother in law sad

Narked Tue 13-Nov-12 14:37:45

'The right to request flexible working' is a joke.

May I change my hours?

Let me think about that.

next day


All legal requirements met.

sleepyhead Tue 13-Nov-12 14:46:47

The sort of companies that offer enhanced mat pay tend not to bitch about the cost of employing women. It would be a bit silly if they did, since they're under no obligation to offer any enhanced benefit and presumably do so in order to attract and retain good female employees.

Having said that, when dc2 is born next year I'll be taking the first 6 months off and dh will take the next 6 months. Part of the reason is that I want to be with the baby for 6 months, but it also make sense for me to do so since I get enhanced maternity pay for that time. Under the new legislation this would obviously be a factor to be considered.

Dh's employers are equal-op bastards so he'll be telling them of his plans to take paternal leave at the latest possible moment. They will probably try and sack him - luckily he's already briefed his union rep and they've been speaking to their legal dept. He's hoping not to return after the 6 months off.. bad companies attract no loyalty.

Absy Tue 13-Nov-12 15:07:10

I think it's a small step in the right direction. If employers know that, not only could potentially the women in her 20s/30s/40s request time off in future for Mat leave, but also the men (of pretty much any age) it makes it a bit more difficult to justify to themselves not hiring a woman of childbearing age in case she falls pregnant and needs to go on Mat Leave. (apologies if that does not make sense, my brain is not all there today)

Basically, it means that men and women are equally "risky" in terms of potentially being off work for an extended period to care for a small child.

ethelb Tue 13-Nov-12 15:14:49

@bealos no its not. So it is right hthat it is being made one.

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 13-Nov-12 15:19:11

Perhaps it's slight progress, but it's not enough, especially in terms of properly funded leave for either parent.

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