Proposals to let parents share a year of leave to help raise a child have been put on hold by business secretary Lord Mandelson, due to the economic crisis.
Despite backing by Equality Minister Harriet Harman, the plans to extend paid maternity leave to 12 months and allow fathers to share up to six months of this, have come under fire from business leaders who fear the move will mean spiralling costs and the creation of yet more red tape.
While the news is a blow for equality campaigners, it has been welcomed by the CIPD, which believes it offers HR a chance to be better prepared for when the proposals finally come into effect.
“The bureaucratic burdens involved in allowing mothers and fathers to share parental leave have always concerned us,” said Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD. “In most cases parents work for different companies – making the administration of the measure potentially very complicated. What would have been cumbersome in good times could become the straw that breaks the camel’s back in a recession – and could damage the long-term business case for better work-life balance.”
He added that there is still a strong case for more generous paternity leave in the medium term and insisted that politicians and business leaders should see this delay as an opportune time to develop more workable proposals that will satisfy all parties involved.