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52 weeks of parental leave if new laws get passed

The revised plans would see new mothers and fathers, including adoptive and surrogate, able to take parental leave in three blocks over a two-year period. Credit: PA Images

Parents in Jersey could be given 52 weeks of leave, with six weeks full pay, if new proposals are approved.

The revised plans would see new mothers and fathers, including adoptive and surrogate, able to take parental leave in three blocks over a two-year period.

  • What are the current parental leave rights?

In September 2018, laws changed with maternity, adoption and parental leave increasing to 26 weeks.

The paid maternity leave also increased from two weeks to 6 weeks, and two weeks of paid paternal leave was also introduced.

The proposals followed the recommendations from The Employment Forum in 2017.

Moves to extend family-friendly rights further began in February 2019 when Social Security Minister, Deputy Judy Martin, lodged a draft law to equalise the rights of all parents.

The draft law proposed one year off for parents to look after their children, with 6 weeks full pay.

But the Chamber of Commerce came out in opposition to the draft law, saying the financial burden of 52 weeks leave would be too great for businesses.

A review in June found that not enough businesses were consulted during the plan, and the debate in the States was delayed.

  • What does the new proposition look like?

The latest draft again includes plans for 52 weeks of leave for all parents, with six weeks full pay.

Changes since consultation with employers include increasing the notice period and introducing a test of reasonableness for an employee seeking to change a period of parental leave.

Untaken parental leave would not be transferable if the parent changed employers.

Other provisions of the draft include allowing pregnant and breastfeeding women more paid leave on health and safety grounds if required.

If passed, the bill would allow for paid breastfeeding breaks, with employers requested to provide facilities to feed and store milk, though the States says that costs of this for smaller businesses have been factored in.

The States hopes it will afford more flexibility to working families.

We want to improve the situation for parents in the workplace, giving families more choice and flexibility to help meet their work and family responsibilities. The changes we are proposing will also encourage gender balance in childcare roles.

We hope that by providing longer defined periods of leave for each parent, both parents will be able to take an equal part in parental responsibility and encourage a culture change in local workplaces.

We also strongly support the provision of more breastfeeding facilities and we’re working with the parishes and businesses to improve access and support for mothers. I hope organisations will share amenities where possible. A list of facilities available to breastfeeding mothers across the island will be collated and made available ahead of the proposed Law coming into effect.

– Deputy Jeremy Macon, Assistant Minister for Social Security

The new draft legislation will be debated in the States on Tuesday 22 October.

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