30 November 2012
RJW Slater and Gordon partner: Parental leave reforms are revolutionary
New parental leave laws are set to have a huge impact on the British employment law landscape.
That is according to Samantha Mangwana, a principal lawyer (partner) in the employment department here at RJW Slater and Gordon, who believes the government reforms unveiled recently are "revolutionary".
Earlier this month, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat alliance revealed it is to implement sweeping changes to rules relating to parental leave n 2015 in order to make the system more flexible.
Under the terms of these proposals, new mothers will be able to go back to work two weeks after giving birth and then share the remainder of their maternity leave with their partner.
At present, mothers are able to take up to 52 weeks off from their job following childbirth, while fathers are entitled to a statutory period of two weeks away from work.
However, the administration believes this system is now outdated and is not suited to the 21st century professional environment, with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg noting that many couples feel they face an "impossible mathematical equation" when deciding on leave after their child arrives.
Samantha explained that the changes are ground-breaking insofar as they should help remove some of the gender discrimination that has been associated with childbirth, as some employers are reluctant to hire women of child-bearing age because of the prospect of them taking a year off in the near future.
"I do see an enormous amount of cases of women who have really suffered career-blocking steps when they return from maternity leave. Until it actually becomes more equal - where men and women are just as likely to take time off for an extended period of time for childcare reasons - I don't think that problem is going to go away," she added.
However, Samantha went on to say that the "major disappointment" associated with the reforms is the fact they will not come into force for another three years.
"If the government has decided it is worth doing I don't know why it isn't worth doing now," she added.
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Posted by Francesca Witney