Good Work Plan: Government consults on proposals to support families

4 mins

Posted on 05 Aug 2019

The Government is consulting on a range of measures to support parents at work. These include:

  • The overall approach to parental leave and pay
  • A new right to paid time off where babies require neonatal care
  • Requiring larger employers to publish their flexible working and parental leave and pay polices 

How will these changes affect parents at work?

The Government is looking at how it might reform the whole range of leave and pay currently available to parents. These include shared parental leave and pay, maternity leave and pay, paternity leave and pay and unpaid parental leave. Any changes it makes will need to meet its policy objectives of increasing flexibility for families, increasing fathers’ involvement in childcare, supporting the participation of women in the labour market and further reducing the employment and gender pay gaps.   

The consultation closes on 29 November 2019. 

Matters it is looking at include:

  • How entitlements to leave and pay should be split between parents
  • Balancing parents’ need for flexibility with employers’ need for certainty
  • Whether support should be focussed around the time of the birth or whether parents should have greater flexibility to take leave when the child is older 
  • Who should bear the cost and whether smaller employers should be able to recover more of the cost than larger employers 
  • Whether poorer families should have greater support 
  • What impact providing statutory enhanced leave and pay would have on employers who already offer enhanced benefits   

How will the proposed changes effect shared parental leave?

The Government seeks views on what aspects of the shared parental leave and pay scheme are most successful and which are most in need of reform. In particular it asks:

  • Whether there should be a dedicated pot of leave and pay for each parent
  • Whether there should be an element of enhanced pay and, if so, who should bear the cost. Currently shared parental leave is paid at the basic statutory rate of £148.68 per week

What views are the government seeking on unpaid parental leave?

18 weeks of unpaid parental leave is available for parents to take until the child’s 18th birthday. The Government seeks views on the pros and cons of the current scheme and asks:

  • Whether there should be any change to its length and
  • Whether it should be paid to increase take up  

How will the proposed changes effect neonatal care leave and pay?

The Government proposes a new day one right to neonatal care leave. The right would be available for parents of premature babies and parents of any new-born requiring specialist neonatal care for two weeks or more.  It proposes one week’s leave for each week the baby is in neonatal care which would be added to the end of the parent’s maternity/paternity leave.  Leave would be paid for employees with 26 weeks’ service who earn at least the lower earnings limit. 

The Government is proposing a cap on the number of weeks’ leave and is inviting views on whether the entire period should be eligible to be paid, or whether there should be a period of paid leave followed by a further period of unpaid leave. 

The Government proposes the right would be available to the biological mother and father, the mother’s spouse, civil partner, or partner living with the mother and baby in an enduring family relationship, as well as the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement or adoption.

This consultation closes on 11 October 2019. 

What views are the government seeking on family friendly policies?

The Government believes there should be greater transparency when it comes to employers’ family-friendly policies. It seeks views on whether employers with more than 250 employees should have to publish their family-related leave and/or flexible working policies on their websites. It also asks whether it would be helpful if key information from those policies was reported annually via a publicly accessible database.  

It asks whether there should be a mandatory duty to publish this information or whether a voluntary approach would be sufficient.

The Government is also considering requiring employers to state in job adverts whether they would consider flexible working for the role.  If it were to introduce this requirement, it asks what level of information employers should have to include in a job advert and how to enforce the duty.    

This consultation closes on 11 October 2019.

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