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Parental leave extended


Working parents of disabled children will be able to take unpaid parental leave of 18 weeks until their child reaches the age of 18, the DTI announced yesterday.

The leave period is set to be extended by five weeks from the existing 13 week period, and has received universal backing from employers, family groups and employees.

Parents of children under five with at least one years’ service with an employer, are also set to benefit from unpaid leave of up to 13 weeks.

The move extends the period during the child’s infancy that the leave can be taken, having previously applied only to children aged under 18 months.

Employers will be legally bound to grant the leave, and the DTI estimates that up to 2.8 million families will benefit. The DTI estimates the measures will cost employers between £1 million and £2 million.

The statutory entitlement to parental leave remains unpaid and employers do not have to keep records.

The CBI has called on the government to allow employers and employees to agree terms for unpaid leave on a voluntary basis. The DTI estimates that the cost per week to employers of covering for an employed mother’s absence is estimated at £30 to £50.

Further announcements will follow the response to the Green Paper ‘Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice’.

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