UK: A Consultation On Flexible Parental Leave

The Government published its response to the Consultation on Flexible Parental Leave earlier this month. The proposals have, amongst other aims, the objective of encouraging fathers to take a greater role in caring for babies and will be introduced from 2015.

The 52 weeks of maternity leave will remain in place as the default position for all employed women. Women who are currently eligible to receive statutory maternity pay ('SMP') (or maternity allowance) will still be able to do so for 39 weeks.

Sharing leave flexibly

Women with partners where both meet the qualifying conditions for the flexible parental system (including a 26 week service requirement) will be able to end the mother's maternity leave and pay, or commit to ending it at a future date, and share the untaken balance of maternity leave and pay as flexible parental leave and pay. The length of flexible parental leave will not exceed the balance of untaken maternity leave, and the amount of statutory flexible parental pay will not exceed the balance of untaken statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance. Each parent will qualify in their own right for leave and pay.

Each parent will need in his or her own right to meet certain earnings or length of service qualifying criteria to use the new flexible parental system. Where possible, these criteria will mirror the criteria for existing entitlements such as maternity pay and allowance and paternity pay and leave.

Who can take the leave?

Flexible parental leave can be taken by the biological father or the mother's partner (husband, civil partner or partner, including same sex) consecutively with the mother on maternity leave, or both parents can be on leave concurrently, so long as the total amount of leave does not exceed what is jointly available to the couple.

Flexible parental leave must be taken in a minimum of one-week blocks. The amount available to each parent will firstly be agreed by the parents, and each will subsequently need to agree their individual pattern of leave with their employer. In the event that the pattern cannot be agreed, the leave defaults to a single block to commence on a date specified by the employee.

The Government does not propose to dedicate any parental leave exclusively to fathers but will be giving parents flexibility in choosing how to divide leave and pay between them.

Will paternity leave and pay change?

It proposes to keep paternity leave and pay at the current level of two weeks. There will, however, be powers to extend paid paternity leave and make it more flexible so that this extension can follow at a later date when Government and business finances permit.

Fathers/partners will have the right to take unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments with their pregnant partner. 

New rules on parental leave

From March 2013, unpaid parental leave will increase from 13 to 18 weeks in order to comply with the revised EU Parental Leave Directive. In 2015, the age limit on parental leave will increase from the current five years to 18 years, providing each parent the right to up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave for each child under 18.

Changes to adoption leave and pay

There will be changes to the leave and pay available to adoptive parents to bring it more closely into line with the leave and pay rights available to birth parents. Statutory adoption leave will become a "day one" right with no qualifying conditions for eligible adopters who are matched with a child for adoption. Statutory adoption pay will be enhanced to 90% of the primary adopter's salary for the first six weeks, which mirrors the arrangement for statutory maternity pay. Working couples who adopt will also be able to use the flexible parental system if they meet the qualifying conditions in the same way as birth parents.

New rights in surrogacy cases

Intended parents of a child born through a surrogacy arrangement who meet the criteria to apply for a Parental Order will be eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay if they meet the qualifying criteria; and for flexible parental leave and pay if they meet the qualifying criteria. They will also be eligible for unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments.

Flexible working

The right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks' continuous employment. The requirement to be a parent or carer will be removed.

The statutory procedure for considering requests will change. This will be replaced with a new duty on employers to consider requests in a reasonable manner, within a reasonable period of time. Employees will still be limited to one request in any 12-month period. A statutory code of practice, and a best practice guide, setting out what a reasonable process requires, will be the subject of a future ACAS consultation. Guidance will also be provided to employers on how to handle simultaneous requests from different employees. Tribunals will be required to take the code into account when considering complaints.

Micro-businesses will not be exempt. The consultation sought views on whether businesses with fewer than 10 employees should be exempt from the extension to the right to request flexible working. This was rejected, primarily because the EU Parental Leave Directive (2010/18/EU) requires all businesses, regardless of size, to give parents returning from a period of parental leave the right to request flexible working.

The government is aiming to implement the extension to the flexible working system by 2014, in the Children and Families Bill, which is expected to be introduced by April 2013. The ACAS consultation on the proposed code of practice will be issued during 2013.


With both of the new proposals the devil will be in the detail. Plainly the coalition government is intending to generate cultural change with regard to the responsibility for caring for young children in working families. Whether the new proposals will be enough to achieve this is debatable, as is the extent to which the expected administrative complexities of the new rules will act as an obstacle to real change.

And whilst a request for flexible working will in future be a right enjoyed by all employees, it is not clear how the enforcement regime will work in practice, nor how the new rules will interact with protection from indirect discrimination under the Equality Act.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.