Parental rights are unclear

The majority of employees are unaware of their paternity and maternity
rights, according to research.

The annual Employee Attitudes Survey shows that only 2 per cent of staff
questioned were aware of the correct period of unpaid leave available to
parents during the first five years of their child’s life.

Despite government proposals to make all statutory information on the
subject available "at the click of a button", the study reveals a
widespread ignorance of facts among respondents.

It also highlights an information gap between regions, with four out of 10
employees in East Anglia understanding their leave entitlements compared to one
in three in Scotland.

Current maternity laws entitle working mothers to 18 weeks’ paid maternity
leave and parents may also take 13 weeks’ unpaid leave during the child’s first
five years after one year’s service.

However, of the 2,000 employees questioned for the nationwide survey, four
in 10 underestimated the unpaid leave period, placing the figure at five weeks.

Similarly, more than half of participants were unaware of the period of paid
leave available.

The results of the survey have prompted criticism of the Government’s
failure to make the information more readily available to employees.

Ian Wolter, managing director of recruiter Eden Brown, said, "It is
extraordinary that there is such massive ignorance about parental leave
entitlement. One might ask why the Government is not doing more to publicise
this important family information.

"In fact, beyond the statutory leave, all employees are entitled to
take reasonable time off work to deal with an emergency involving a

The survey of more than 2,000 employees was conducted by Gallup for Eden
Brown last April.

By Robert De La Poer

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