European employer and trade union representatives (the so-called “Social Partners”) have recently agreed that the minimum period of parental leave should increase from three to four months. To encourage a more equal take-up of leave by both parents, at least one of the four months must be provided on a non-transferable basis. Parents in the UK with one year’s continuous employment are currently entitled to take up to 13 weeks’ unpaid parental leave per child.

Parents returning to work after parental leave will be given the chance to request a change to their working conditions (e.g. hours) to facilitate childcare arrangements.

The European Commission will now put forward a draft Directive for consideration by the Council of Ministers. The UK will have up to three years to implement the terms of any new Directive.