So much has changed since our grandparents or even parents days. During the 1970s, only 23% of mothers worked at all. Two decades later, in the 1990s, women had certainly started to step outside the house with nearly 3.7 million mothers in the workforce.

Since then, this figure has skyrocketed.

Today, over 4.9 million mothers work, a 61.9% increase from 1996, and almost three-quarters of women with young children balance work and parenthood. Most families split work and childcare duties with fathers working full-time and mothers working part-time.

However, with both parents working, employment law around parenthood, like parental leave and childcare related absences, are now more important than ever.

How Does Employment Law Currently Protect Parents?

While some protection already exists, like the right to request flexible working or time off for dependents, there’s more work to be done. And, many of the current laws for working parents could offer better support. For example:

Parental Leave

While 39 weeks of paid maternity leave may sound good, the UK has some of the worst parental leave in Europe. According to a recent Independent article, the UK ranks as the third worst European country for maternity and paternity entitlements, only coming ahead of Switzerland and Iceland.

Countries like Scandinavia, famous for their family-friendly policies, offer 480 days of paid leave per child, which parents can take as they wish. New parents also receive 390 days at 80% of the couple’s salary and each parent gets three months on a ‘use or lose it’ basis.

In the UK, men are only legally entitled to two weeks of paternity leave on statutory pay, which is only £148.68 or 90% of your weekly salary -- whatever is lower. Since April 5th 2015, parents have been allowed to share parental leave, but uptake rates have been shockingly low with the BBC suggesting that uptake could be as low as 2%.

Flexible Working

At present, all parents are allowed to request flexible working arrangements. However, employer’s don’t have to grant it and whether you can work flexibly, say compressed hours, is totally up to the discretion of your manager.

You also have to wait until you have six months service to request flexible working. When you’re caring for a young child and balancing full-time work commitments, six months is a long time to wait.

As such, this time restriction has put many parents, especially mothers, off starting a new job or switching employers. The Labour government has recently called for changes to this law, which would allow parents to request flexible working from day one.

Modern Parents are Overworked

It’s not just a lack of flexible arrangements that are negatively impacting working parents. A major study released by Modern Families shows that parents are being overworked and paying a ‘parenthood penalty.’

Regardless of whether they work full or part-time, 30-40% of parents have to work more than their contracted hours. As a result, nearly two in five parents (39%) often or always miss saying goodnight to their children. And, aren’t available for their children after school or nursery.

If parents don’t see their children before going to bed, they often won’t get a chance to talk to their kids about their day or connect with them till the following evening or weekend.

Employer expectations, of long hours, are forcing many parents to deliberately stall their careers or refuse a new job or promotion.

Modern Parents Need the Right Support - Learn More at Our Next Breakfast Seminar

Without the right support, modern parents are unable to pursue career ambitions while also being ‘there’ for their children. Supporting parents to reach their professional and personal goals is something close to our hearts here at Change.

Which is why, we're hosting a breakfast seminar on modern parenthood. On April 24th at 8-10 am, we’ll be joined by Katy Wedderburn, Partner and Head of Employment at MacRoberts LLP.

Katy will discuss recent case law around modern parenthood, covering topics like parental leave and how parents can handle pregnancy and childcare related absences together. She’ll also explore the implications for employers.

So whether you’re a modern parent, eventual parent-to-be, or employer, our event is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the laws impacting British workplaces.

To join our exciting event, register on our event page. Places are free, but limited so register today.