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Workers and bosses urged to talk about shared parental leave

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills is stepping up its awareness campaign around shared parental leave.

It said on 18 February – eight weeks before parents with babies due on or after 5 April 2015 can start sharing up to 50 weeks of parental leave and 37 weeks of pay – they needed to have an “all-important conversation” with their employers.

A total of 285,000 working couples a year are expected to be eligible for shared parental leave, with parents required to give employers eight weeks’ notice of the pattern of leave they intend to take.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said: “Shared parental leave will kickstart a change where fathers feel empowered to take time off to look after their kids and not feel constrained by outdated stereotypes.

“We recognise that this isn’t going to be easy for those at the forefront of the change but we also know that for many dads the nerves they feel about having a conversation with their boss around leave will be worth it in the end.

“We also know that many employers are incredibly supportive and keen to offer mums and dads more flexibility. Employers will see the benefit in terms of staff loyalty and providing women the option to return to work earlier.”

Sir Brendan Barber, the chair of employment relations organisation Acas, added: “Businesses and employees should familiarise themselves with these new rights now. Our advice to eligible employees and their employers is to start having early discussions about the different options available so that preparing and planning the leave is as straightforward as possible.”