Six months off work for parents of newborn babies?

Six months off work for parents of newborn babies?

The proposals, which were lodged this morning by Social Security Minister Susie Pinel, would also increase the amount of paid maternity leave and give Islanders greater flexibility to balance their working and family lives.

The proposed changes to the Employment Law, which would come into force in two phases in September this year and 2019, would see:

*Maternity, adoption and parental leave increased to 26 weeks.

*The introduction of two weeks of paid parental leave for the father or partner of the child’s mother.

*A trebling of the minimum amount of paid maternity leave from two weeks to six weeks.

*The introduction of six weeks of paid adoption leave.

*Fathers or partners being given time off to attend antenatal appointments.

*All staff having the right to request flexible working.

Under current laws, mothers are entitled to 18 weeks’ maternity leave, two of which are fully paid, with the rest unpaid. Fathers are entitled to two weeks of unpaid leave. And only mothers can currently request flexible working.

The move follows recommendations from the Employment Forum, which last year canvassed the opinions of more than 300 parents, employers and other interested parties during a public consultation.

Deputy Pinel said: ‘I have accepted all of the forum’s recommendations for changes to the Employment Law which are intended to improve the position for parents in the workplace, give families more choice and flexibility and to encourage gender balance in childcare roles.

‘I directed the forum to undertake this review to maintain a previous commitment that I had given to the States. I am satisfied that the forum has taken a balanced view of all of the evidence and I believe that the overall package represents a much-needed step forward.

‘I am sure that some employers will be concerned about the impact of the additional periods of leave, but I believe that the recommendation is balanced in view of the cost to business. This is a bold move which will be a significant change for some businesses, but the time has come to increase employment rights for parents.

‘I propose to do this in two stages to give employers a bit more time to prepare.’

Services and online information will be given to businesses and staff by the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service to help them deal with the proposed changes.

Deputy Pinel added: ‘These changes have advantages, both for the economy and for the family unit. I hope that, over time, we will start to see more fathers taking parental leave and that this will bring a change in workplace attitudes and practices, potentially reducing discrimination against women in employment and recruitment.’

The proposition is due to be debated on Tuesday 20 March.

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