The Government has confirmed that it is to postpone the extension of the right to unpaid parental leave until 2013 due to the ongoing development of its Modern Workplaces policy.
Under the Parental Leave Directive, the parents of a child under the age of five will each have the right to take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave, an extension of five weeks from the current provisions.
The Directive from the European Council comes into force on 8 March 2012 but the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has told XpertHR that the Government intends to use a grace period that allows member states to delay implementation of the changes by one year “to take account of particular difficulties”.
In May 2011, the Government stated that the increase would be incorporated into a system of flexible parental leave as set out in its Modern Workplaces consultation. However, the increase in unpaid paternal leave will come into force ahead of other proposals set out in the consultation, which are expected to come into force in 2015.
Susie Munro, employment law editor at XpertHR, commented: “The Government is saying that it is necessary to delay the increase to parental leave due to the ongoing Modern Workplaces policy development, although the parental leave increase seems quite straightforward and will still come in more than two years ahead of the changes to family leave proposed in the Modern Workplaces consultation.
“Whether or not the extension to the implementation date is justified is unlikely to be an issue though, as few employees currently take their full entitlement to unpaid parental leave as it is. It is unlikely that there will be much of a push for the increase to be brought forward.”