From April next year there will be a new statutory entitlement to shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay, in the year following the birth or adoption of a child, if parents meet various qualifying requirements. The new family leave regime includes two other key changes:
- From October this year, there will be a new entitlement for fathers/mother's partner/intended parents in surrogacy arrangements to time off (with no right to pay) to attend up to two ante-natal appointments with their partner – for a maximum of 6.5 hours on each occasion.
- The current 26 week qualifying period for adoption leave is removed, making adoption leave a day one right from 5 April 2015, and there will be a new entitlement to time off to attend adoption appointments. The primary adopter will be able to have paid time off to attend up to five pre-adoption appointments and the secondary adopter will be entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two pre-adoption appointments, again with a maximum 6.5 hours' time off on each occasion.
Regulations issued by the Government confirming these changes include protection for employees who suffer detriment or dismissal in relation to time off for ante-natal or adoption appointments (from 1 October 2014 for ante-natal appointments and 5 April 2015 for adoption appointments).
Meanwhile, the European Commission has announced the withdrawal of its proposals to amend the Pregnant Workers Directive. The changes – announced back in 2008 – would have increased the minimum period of maternity leave across Europe from 14 to 18 and then 20 weeks.