Three quarters of working mothers take six months maternity leave

Three quarters of working mothers now take their full entitlement to maternity pay, according to government research.

The 2005 Maternity and Paternity Rights Survey, commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), found the average period of maternity leave is now six months, up from four months in 2002.

However, fathers continue to miss out on their time off, with only 36% taking more than two weeks paternity leave.

New regulations coming into force in April 2007 will mean maternity and adoption pay entitlement will rise from six to nine months, moving towards the government’s goal of one year’s paid leave by the end of 2010.

Paternity leave will increase to 26 weeks, some of which could be paid if the mother returns to work.

Trade and industry secretary Alan Johnson said that working closely with business was the key to making the new regulations work.

“Employers recognise the benefits of better-enabling employees to balance work and home lives, saving time and money on recruitment and training while ensuring they keep the staff with the skills they need,” he said.

There has been a large rise in the number of parents claiming flexible working, the report said.

More than two-thirds (68%) of mothers now say that flexi-time is available to them, up from 44% in 2002. More than half (54%) of fathers said that flexible working options were offered to them, up from 22% four years ago.


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