Legislation announced today would give new mothers the opportunity to return to work after two weeks and share the rest of their leave with their partner. You can read all about it here: Flexible parental leave to give mothers ‘real choice’ over work-life balance.
The idea is to give new mothers as much flexibility as possible, including:
- Leave would be flexible and could be triggered at any point after the first two weeks;
- The remaining 50 weeks could be shared between mother and partner;
- Leave could be taken at the same time or in turns;
- Maximum leave will remain 12 months, nine of them on guaranteed pay (!)
- Couples will need to be “open” with employers and give them “proper notice”;
Could this, I wonder, be the key to the age-old dilemma of having it all? Women would have the choice to go back to work knowing they would have flexible support and could share the leave with their partner.
It changes hiring dynamics too — if a man is just as likely to take paternity leave as a woman, would that help to eliminate hiring biases?
When I took my first maternity leave in 2002, I returned to work after 5 months months. While I enjoyed that time, I would have loved the opportunity to share the responsibility with my husband (he was running a small software company so not sure realsitically how it would have panned out). When I took my 2nd maternity leave in 2003 (I know, I know) I could tell my boss was about to kill me. I took another 5 months, and though no one said anything, my credibility with the company waned. I wonder if it could have been different?
What do you think? Does this new legislation help? Hinder? Or will “having it all” continue to be a dilemma for women, and men too?