From the 6th April 2015 the rules on parental leave following the birth or adoption of a baby are changing. For the better we hope.
Until now mothers were entitled to 9 months paid statutory maternity leave, and fathers were entitled to only 2 weeks paid statutory paternity leave. After April 6th however, both parents will be entitled to share between them. New parents can take up to 50 weeks leave, 37 of which are paid and they can choose to take some of the leave together, or take it separately, or even ‘tag team’, swapping leave between them. You can work out your leave and pay under the new system here.
So, what do you think of these new rules?
There are no arguments that this makes it fair for both parents and recognises that Dads play a huge part in raising children today. It would also mean that in families where the mother earned more money that she could go back to work sooner, leaving Daddy on daycare duty which would work out better financially.
It does however mean that there may be more pressure on new mothers to go back to work in those precious first few months. At the end of the day it is the mum whose body has gone through a huge change, giving birth to a baby. She needs time to rest, recuperate and bond with her new baby. Financial pressure to go back to work could harm her mentally, and have repercussions for post natal depression and impact upon breastfeeding.
For us as a family these changes would have made no difference. As a significantly higher earner than me we couldn’t even afford for my husband to take two weeks statutory paternity let alone longer. He’s taken 2 weeks holiday following the birth of our three, and with the middle one, he was back working before I had even been discharged from the hospital.
Essentially I’m torn as to whether these changes are a good thing. They do even the playing field in terms of work for both parents. They provide more opportunities for families where the woman is the higher earner to be in a better position financially and they recognise that modern father’s play a big part in raising today’s children.
Conversely I feel that the changes could put too much pressure onto women in one of their most vulnerable periods of life. The bond between a mother and her baby is a strong and unique one. It is invariably different to any bond that a father may have. The mother will have hormones to contend with, and returning to work too soon may be detrimental to her mental and physical health as well as the health of her newborn where breastfeeding is concerned.
What do you think of the upcoming changes? Would you take advantage of them?