As part of a general package of reforms designed to make hours more flexible, mothers will be able to share out their maternity leave – after the first two weeks – with a partner.
But Nick Pearce at the Institute of Public Policy Research slammed the plans, and suggested they would be unlikely to help spread the burden of childcare more evenly across both parents. “Although this leave may end up being called ‘flexible parental leave’, it will in fact be nothing of the sort,” Pearce said, “it will be transferred maternity leave.”
“Fathers will have no entitlement to leave unless the mother has accrued maternity leave rights with an employer herself.”
But businesses gave a cautious welcome to the broader thrust of the flexible work proposals, judged “not just a question of equality, but also of economic necessity”, by the Institute of Directors.
However, employers could be left with absent staff at short notice if the plans are not put in place properly, the IoD added, while the British Chambers of Commerce said it could damage employer-staff relations.