European Commission proposal to increase parental leave rights
Audrey Williams, Partner and Head of Discrimination Law at international law firm Eversheds comments on the European Commission's proposal to increase the existing rights to take parental leave from three to four months per parent:
"The European Commission has now formally adopted this proposal to increase the existing right to take parental leave from three to four months per parent. The proposal will not become binding unless and until the European Council, made up of EU national governments endorses it. However essentially this is just a formality as the change is something that was negotiated and agreed between employer and employee groups earlier this year. The Council is likely to rubber stamp the proposal at a meeting later this year, which is currently scheduled for 1 December. Member States should then have another two years to make any necessary changes to national laws. This will mean UK law, which currently guarantees 13 weeks' parental leave, will have to be changed - probably by the end of 2011.
"In practice, increasing parental leave entitlement by one month is unlikely to have a big impact on UK employers. Under current law there is no obligation to pay workers who are on parental leave and nothing in this new proposal changes that. The fact that leave is unpaid means that relatively few workers take advantage of parental leave rights."
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