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TUC drops action as Government settles parental leave issue

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The TUC has called off its European court case against the government over parental leave, following the government’s decision to not only pay the TUC’s legal costs, but also to grant extra time allowing parents previously barred from taking the leave to do so.

The TUC had been due at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg this Thursday (3 May) with its legal counsel Cherie Booth QC.

Over the past few days, the TUC and officials from the DTI have been involved in negotiations aimed at persuading the TUC that the government would now meet European law and that parents who missed out would still be able to take their leave. The government has agreed to meet all the TUC’s legal costs, estimated at around £40,000.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: “This TUC victory marks a total government climb down. Eighteen months ago, the government’s mean-spirited approach stopped around 2.7 million parents from taking up the parental leave granted them under European law. All legal advice had predicted that it would lose the court case this week. Now the government has met every issue in the TUC’s legal challenge.

“No doubt the employer lobby will recoil with horror and complain of yet more ‘red tape’. But today’s news will not open the parental leave floodgates. Whilst the leave remains unpaid, and can only be taken in unflexible periods of a week at a time, few parents will be able to take advantage of it. The TUC will continue to campaign for parental leave which is paid, flexible and of much more benefit to working parents.”

The government has assured the TUC that it will implement the new parental leave regulations as soon as possible. This means that all parents whose children were under the age of five when the regulations where first introduced – on 15 December 1999 – will now get the right to take parental leave. Those parents previously excluded by the cut-off are to be given an extra three years to take their leave.

See also Parental leave extended

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