The government has published a consultation document containing proposals to alter the system of maternity/ parental leave, flexible working, annual leave and equal pay. It is intended that the new system of maternity/parental leave will be introduced in April 2015.

The consultation proposes that mothers should take the first 18 week period of maternity leave and thereafter a 34 week period of parental leave could be shared between both parents. The government also proposes to extend the right to work flexibly to all employees. It is envisaged that employers who receive numerous requests will be entitled to prioritise them.

The government also intends to bring the law in step with recent case law and the consultation provides that where a worker is unable to take holiday during the leave year because of sickness, they will be able to carry statutory leave forward into the next leave year. The consultation also seeks views on businesses being allowed to buy out up to 1.6 weeks of statutory leave on justifiable business grounds.