It had been expected that the government would implement updated provisions of the Parental Leave Directive requiring member states (if they had not already done so) to extend the period of unpaid parental leave available to parents by 5 March this year.
Our current Regulations provide that, once an employee has completed one year’s employment with an employer, he or she can take up to 13 weeks’ unpaid parental leave for each child born or adopted. The leave can be taken at any time up to the child’s fifth birthday (or five years after placement in the case of adoption).
In March 2010 the EU extended the period of entitlement to parental leave (as distinct from maternity leave) from three months to four months. Consequently it is necessary for the maximum leave period to be extended from 13 to 18 weeks. However, the EU also allowed a "grace period" for governments wishing to delay implementation by one year "to take account of particular difficulties". On 23 January the British government announced that it will be utilising the option of the grace period so the proposed changes have been postponed until 2013. The "particular difficulties" cited by the government concern integration with the results of the Modern Workplaces consultation, although these are not due until 2015.