EMBARGO UNTIL 00:01 FRIDAY 29 NOVEMBER.
Rosalind Bragg, Director of Maternity Action, welcomed the Government’s announcement on shared parental leave, and said:
“The shared parental leave reforms are a useful but very modest step in the right direction.
“The ‘right to return’ arrangements are complex, unfair and will confuse both parents and their employers.
“It is not right that a woman who takes a week of shared parental leave to settle her daughter into childcare can find that her job has altered during her absence.
“Women calling our advice line regularly report that their job has been altered to their disadvantage while they are on leave. Women are demoted and sidelined. They face changes to their hours and location of work which force them to resign as they cannot balance childcare with the new work arrangements
“If the Government wants parents to make use of the new flexible leave, they must introduce fair and simple arrangements which protect parents’ jobs when they are at home caring for their new baby.
“Effective shared parental leave arrangements are essential to address gender equality in the workplace and in caring for children. More could have been done to promote take-up by fathers and it is unfortunate that the Government missed this opportunity.
For more information, contact Rosalind Bragg on 07913381208.
Maternity Action is the UK’s leading charity committed to ending inequality and improving the health and well-being of pregnant women, partners and young children – from conception through to the child’s early years.
Maternity Action provides free online information and telephone advice on maternity rights at work and maternity benefits which is available to all pregnant women, new mothers and their families.
In 2012, Maternity Action answered over 2 200 advice calls from women facing difficulties at work and parents downloaded 397 000 information sheets. We receive 15 times more calls than we can answer and we receive no Government funding for our advice service.
Maternity Action leads the Valuing Maternity campaign to defend maternity rights and protect maternity services. This is supported by 20 national charities, unions and health organisations.
Note on the ‘right to return’: Currently, the right to return to the same job applies to maternity and additional paternity leave of 26 weeks or less. When parents take a longer period of leave in a single block, their employer can assign them to another job or make changes to their job. The Shared Parental Leave announcement proposes that the right to return to the same job is restricted to 26 weeks of maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave in aggregate. Where a parent takes any further leave, even a short period such as a week of leave, their employer can assign them to another job or make changes to their job.