Shared parental pay and shared parental leave

Mothers’ Union believes in the importance of supporting families to balance their work and family life commitments and has long been campaigning on this, among many other issues. Most recently this has been characterised by our  in the past by our Flexible Families (2007) campaign which successfully called for all employees to have the right to request flexible working.

The right to request flexible working is not the only move to offer more flexibility to parents.  While all employees have the right to request flexible working, the government also introduced a more flexible system of parental leave from 2015. The new regulations include  a new entitlement for employees who are mothers, fathers, adopters, or the partners of mothers or adopters, to take shared parental leave in the first year of their child’s life or in the first year after the child’s placement for adoption. In practice these new regulations mean that eligible employees would be able to think about how shared parental leave could work best for them over a total period of 52 weeks. It could mean that both parents choose to ask for 26 weeks of concurrent parental leave, or could choose to apply for blocks of leave either alternately or together. 

An important element of this proposal is the principle of consent. Those seeking to apply for shared parental leave would be required to declare their consent regarding the application and the amount of shared leave applied for. It is our hope that this requirement for written consent, would act to encourage all those considering shared parental leave the opportunity to discuss and agree what type of leave would work best for them and to support their family. 

Mothers’ Union responded to a call for views on this new system for shared parental and leave, calling for clear guidance alongside any resulting regulations to ensure that they are explained in a clear and accessible way for all those who would seek to benefit from them.