Parental leave move slammed as damaging

have described the Government’s move to extend parental leave to all employees
with children under five as unnecessary and potentially damaging to British

Last week Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers announced that the Government
will give employees 13 weeks’ unpaid leave if their child was under five on 15
December 1999.

Currently parents can claim parental leave only if the child was born after
this date.

Employees will be able to ask for a maximum one month off a year until their
child’s fifth birthday, although employers will be able to delay leave if it is
during a busy time for the company.

The move brings Britain into line with the rest of the EU, and will benefit
nearly three million employees. The decision, made the week before the TUC and
the Government meet in the European Court of Justice to rule over its
interpretation, has angered employers who believe that too much parental
legislation is being implemented.

The CBI claims the decision will stiffen employers’ resolve to fight
part-time working under the work and parents green paper, released last year.

Lew Swift, director of HR at the Walton Centre for Neurology and
Neurosurgery, says, "The move will dramatically affect the NHS. Nurse
shortages will worsen and the potential impact on services combined with other
new parental legislation will leave the NHS struggling.

Mike Emmott, the CIPD’s employee relations adviser, thought employers would
be hit badly by the new rules.

He said, "Short-term crowding, numerous employees taking paternity
leave at the same time will worry employers. This will bring a modest expense
as organisations will have to train existing staff to cover positions as well
as recruiting temporary employees."

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