Parental leave and pay: Supporting parents and achieving equality

Closed 29 Nov 2019

Opened 19 Jul 2019


This section explores the objectives of Parental Leave and Pay; how Government policy supports parents and employers; the factors which enable parents to combine work and childcare and the impact of each of these factors; and looks at high level options for reforming parental leave and pay.

Below is useful information on what changes we could make and the trade-offs these may bring. 

Parental leave factors which support parents to combine work with childcare responsibilities

There are a range of variables which could potentially be leveraged:  

  • The length of leave and when it can be taken (e.g. only in the first year or over the lifetime of the child);
  • The rate of pay (which can vary over the leave period);
  • Whether leave is transferrable between parents or given on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis;
  • Whether the parental leave can be taken flexibly (e.g. in days or half-days; in blocks separated by periods at work; and whether it can be stopped and re-started);
  • Who the leave and pay applies to (e.g. just employees or all working parents); and
  • Whether parents can take time off work together, sequentially or both.


Making the right trade-offs and choices to support families

Reforming one or more parental leave and pay policies may necessitate trade-offs around:

  • How entitlements to leave and/or pay are split between parents; 
  • Balancing flexibility and choice for families and incentivising parental behaviours (e.g. solo childcare by fathers);
  • Creating more rules and incentives to determine how leave is taken and shared, versus simplicity for parents to navigate the system and make choices;
  • Giving parents the flexibility to take leave when it suits them and giving their employers and co-workers certainty;
  • How the costs of parental leave and pay are shared between families, employers and the Government;
  • How much support is provided at the time of the birth versus giving parents opportunities to take parental leave when their child is older;
  • How support is distributed across families – and whether the generosity of support should vary according to a family’s income;
  • How the costs are distributed across types of employers – including, the relative support provided to SMEs and large employers;
  • How employers who provide enhanced contractual leave and pay would respond to Government enhancing family-related statutory pay (e.g. would they extend the period of contractual leave and pay or re-cycle the savings?); and
  • The level of support offered to families with different characteristics.

The full consultation document can be found below



  • SMEs (small and medium businesses)
  • Large businesses (over 250 staff)
  • Trade bodies
  • Legal representative
  • Medium business (50 to 250 staff)
  • Micro business (up to 9 staff)
  • Trade union or staff association
  • Employment lawyers
  • Employment advisers
  • Businesses
  • Individual employees
  • HR professionals
  • HR organisations
  • Parents
  • General public
  • Charities
  • Local government
  • Charity or social enterprise
  • Central government
  • Individual
  • Non-departmental public bodies
  • The Devolved Administrations
  • Charities and Third Sector organisations
  • Non-Government Organisations
  • Civil Society Organisations


  • Workplace rights
  • Shared parental leave
  • Flexible working