Flexible parental leave is proposed

A new system of flexible parental leave has been put forward in a consultation document.

The Government has proposed that following the early weeks of maternity and paternity leave parents should be able to share leave allowances between them. Ministers believe that the current regulations are too rigid and reflect outdated views of parental responsibility.

The Modern Workplaces consultation suggests that leave could be taken in a number of blocks and would allow both parents to take leave at the same time. In addition, employers would be given additional flexibility by being able to insist that leave should be taken over a continuous period if an agreement cannot be met.

Employers will also be able to ask staff to return to work for short periods of time in order to cope with demand at peak times.

The consultation goes on to outline plans for the right to request flexible working to be introduced to all employees.

Theresa May, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, said: “The solution to these challenges, though, is not more bureaucracy, top-down intervention and politically correct quotas, but policies that go with the grain of human nature and maximise flexibility and choice.”

Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller added: “We need to move flexible working away from being the exception, to being considered a normal way to work.”

The consultation closes on 8 August 2011.