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Extending the right to request flexible working, and consultation on paternity leave measures

30th September 2010
The Government has announced that the right to request flexible working will be extended to parents of children under 18 years old. It is proposed that this should come into effect in April 2011. The Government is considering going further than that. A consultation paper is to be published later this year on the subject of extending the right to request flexible working to ALL employees. In addition the Government is also considering the introduction of a flexible parental leave system.

The right to request for flexible working arrangements is currently available to parents of children aged under 17 (or 18 in the case of disabled children), and carers of certain adults.
The Government claims that the proposed initial extension of the right to request flexible working will potentially benefit 288,000 employees, and make it easier to identify whether or not an employee is eligible to make a request. 

The consultation plans are expected to include details of a parental leave system that encourages shared parenting from the beginning of the pregnancy.

In the meantime the Government has decided to retain the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations that apply to parents of children due on or after the 3rd April 2011. Under those regulations an employed father will be able to take up to 6 months leave (in some cases paid) if the mother returns early to work. This means that the father will be able to take the remainder from the mothers maternity leave when she returns within the one year leave entitlement.

The fact remains that the right is to request the flexible working arrangments, not to insist on it. The employer is allowed a very wide range of reasons to reject such a request. 

On the subject of paternity leave, this is only likely to be taken up when the right to pay (or more accurately a reasonable  level of pay) during that leave period exists. The very limited numbers of fathers taking paternity leave reflects the very low rate of pay that they are entitled to in the leave period.

If you require any help or assistance on any of the matters raised in this article do not hesitate to contact us.
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