Businesses should welcome new parental leave rules usinesses should welcome new parental leave rules
The government’s new childcare plans are a welcome change that will be good for families, good for relationships, and ultimately good for society.
Under the old rules fathers could only take paternity leave in a single block, and only once the child reached the age of 20 weeks. Now, though, parents will be able to negotiate phased leave with their employers in order to ensure that the mother and the father can share both the burden of parenthood and the chance to see their child grow.
Big business groups have argued against the plans, suggesting that they will be a “nightmare” for employers. As a growing business employing over 200 people, we disagree. These new rules help to ensure that businesses can work in partnership with their employees as they experience one of the most important phases of their lives. They are also far from taxing. Employers should be prepared to negotiate reasonable leave with their employees, and should support them through their parenthood. Businesses that cannot manage this have much deeper problems that they need to address.
Nick Clegg is right to describe the old rules as “Edwardian”. They no longer reflected the real nature of parenting. Just as importantly, they no longer reflected the relationship between employers and employees. Businesses must operate in partnership with their workforce, working with them rather than dictating to them. Businesses should welcome this change, which will provide concrete benefits for the employees on which they rely.