15 November 2019


Maternity Rights

Government Consultations

Maternity Action response to BEIS consultation on reforming maternity, paternity and parental leave

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is seeking views on its proposals to better support parents with balancing work and family life. This comes as part of its consultation ‘Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families’.

Maternity Action is a leading charity committed to ending inequality and improving the health and wellbeing of pregnant women, partners and young children, and it has submitted a detailed response to the BEIS consultation.

Maternity Action’s comments include (amongst others):

  • Statutory Paternity Pay should be enhanced to 90% of average earnings to encourage and enable all fathers and partners to take leave for the birth of their baby and to provide wage replacement for families immediately after the birth of a new baby.

  • Enhancing paternity pay to 90% would better meet the objectives of increasing paternal involvement in childcare and helping the mother recover from the birth; lengthening the period of paternity leave without providing a high level of wage replacement is unlikely to achieve higher levels of paternity involvement.

  • Statutory Paternity Pay should be funded by the State in view of the importance of increasing levels of paternal involvement and supporting both parents at the time of the birth.

  • The current level of reimbursement of 92% should remain for all employers and that the reimbursement for businesses who qualify for Small Employers Relief should be raised to 110%. This would incentivise small employers to ‘do the right thing’ and help towards associated costs of maternity, paternity and shared parental leave, such as accrual of annual leave.

  • The existing system of transferable shared parental leave and pay should be replaced by a new system of individual rights to 6 months’ parental leave for each parent, with the right to take it up to 18 months from the birth. Entitlement to parental leave for each parent would be non-transferable and, therefore, provided on a use it or lose it basis. Eligibility would not depend on the other parent’s employment or earnings or how much leave they were taking.

  • An independent right to 6 months’ parental leave per parent should be provided with a minimum of 3 months’ paid leave per parent, with a commitment to increasing the length of paid leave over time.

  • Shared parental leave should be abolished at the earliest opportunity and replaced by a new right to 6 months’ parental leave for each parent. Additional maternity leave would effectively be renamed as the mother’s parental leave.

Those with an interest in the topic are encouraged to review Maternity Action’s full response, which provides considerably further detail. For those interested in submitting a response to the BEIS consultation, note that it closes at 23:45 on 29 November 2019.

Suzanne McKie QC is a member of Maternity Action’s Legal Advice Panel, and Farore Law is glad to support the charity in publicising its recommendations.

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