Paving the way to equality for parents

nuclearOn my way to work this morning I was listening to the radio and heard that the government has committed to introducing a year of shared leave for new parents by April 2015. This means both fathers and mothers. Revolutionary? Well, certainly a step in the right direction (I would say).

Essentially this new arrangement will mean that the current existing 52 weeks of maternity leave, other than the first two weeks which are specifically for a new mother’s recovery, will be shared between parents. This will be replacing the current system, which was introduced in April 2011, whereby mothers and fathers are able to share some of the existing 52 weeks’ leave with the father being able to take up to 6 months of this, after their child is 20 weeks old. However, in the old system, any child leave can only be taken as one single block. The new arrangement would essentially mean that this “single block” problem is diminished. Mothers and fathers will be able to share the remaining 50 weeks between them as they like by taking the leave in turns, in different blocks if needed.

Equalities Minister Jo Swinson outlined a scenario where a mother would be happy to return to work for “four or five weeks” to assist during busy periods such as Christmas time (similar to how this is the busiest period for elves who have to work for Santa). However, if a mother was to do this, then she would lose all her maternity rights from this point onwards. The new arrangement would fix this.

Businesses will have to agree any proposed pattern of time off and will be able to retain the right to insist the time to be confined to a continuous block with no more than two subsequent changes.

Nick Clegg has stated that “Women deserve the right to pursue their goals and not feel they have to choose between having a successful career or having a baby,” And, don’t we all agree with that? I would say, that the way society is moulded has meant that women feel they have to choose between a career and a family. This clearly should not be the case and these new reforms should be welcomed. Obviously, one of the main drawbacks and restraints ofd the new arrangement is that many couples may not be able to afford to take the leave. Arguably, if the arrangement was paired with better pay then it may be more attractive. However, on the face of it, providing mothers and fathers with more flexibility in the workforce when they want to start a family is definitely the way forward.

This new arrangement would give fathers a better opportunity to be involved in their baby’s first few months. It cannot be denied that the traditional nuclear family where the mother is the homemaker and the father is the breadwinner is still the norm. The idea of shared parental leave should be welcomed. Because essentially, why not? Who wants to be conforming to the past with the traditional nuclear family ideal? This type of change is good and provides for more flexibility. And as Nick Clegg says, “there shouldn’t’ be a one size fits all approach”- each family is different and this scheme caters for a lot of different families.

And on that note, it’s a wrap at Stowe Family Law today. Hope you all have a lovely weekend and bring December in, in style!!

Image by normalityrelief

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