From April 2015, parents will be able to choose how they share time off work to care for their baby. Shared Parental Leave allows working couples to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in a way that suits their work and family needs. For example, parents can take time off together or they can take it in turns, stopping and starting leave and returning to work in between if they want to. You can check your eligibility (and see how much pay you’d get).
I think this idea has a few positives and a couple of negatives.
I’ve written before about how isolating maternity leave can be, and this could help to alleviate some of that. If the mother can go back to work for a while and then take more leave to be with her child again, it might be just the ticket for keeping in the loop and some time off from all the baby classes, nappy changes, and trips to the park. Who doesn’t enjoy that novelty of drinking a hot cup of tea without interruption that first few weeks of being back at work?!
It could also be helpful for employers, as if they had a project to complete, and the mother was the expert in that field, they could have their expert back for the period of the project and then arrange maternity cover. Although, in this day and age, it’s more likely the employers wouldn’t cover the maternity leave at all due to the extra costs involved.
And let’s not forget the benefits for the dads! Those days of fathers expecting to see their children only for a peck on the cheek as they go off to bed are long gone. “Take them away, nanny“. Most dads love to spend time with their children, and getting that bond would be that bit easier with full on time like this.
But would it work for us? No, I don’t think so. The main reason why I’d be hesitant to take up this scheme is due to something else I’ve written about on this blog: breastfeeding.
I’ve worked really hard to feed Noah, and if I had to return to work before the year was up, I’d either have to express milk or give him formula, and to be honest I really can’t be bothered to do either!! I love the simplicity and ease of breastfeeding, of carrying his food wherever we go without any bottles or worrying about sterilising things.
So, good idea government, but not for us.