Global legal firm Ashurst is to introduce a parental leave policy providing a minimum entitlement for all working parents regardless of the jurisdiction in which they are based. 

For what Ashurst terms primary carer leave (maternity leave), the carer will be entitled to a minimum of 18 weeks of full pay, topping up government funding if it exists. Primary carers will be entitled to take 52 weeks of leave, with the balance above 18 weeks being unpaid.

Where there is already a more generous provision in place, like in the UK where primary carers receive 26 weeks at full pay, or where the firm has secondary carer leave, shared parental policies already in place will remain.

For “parental leave” (or paternity leave), the parent will receive two weeks of full pay within the first eight weeks of the child’s arrival. This matches the entitlement in the UK, and introduces or increases the entitlement in most other countries.

In the UK, partner parental leave (shared parental leave) will increase from four weeks to a total of 18 weeks of paid leave (16 weeks where parental leave has already been taken). This can be taken at any point within 52 weeks of the child's arrival and does not require sharing with those on maternity leave. 

For Ashurst partners, the new policy will see the introduction of partner parental leave globally, which allows for the secondary carer 18 weeks of distributions during the first 12 months following the arrival of a child. 

Claire Townshend, Ashurst's head of HR for EMEA and US and global head, HR Operations, commented:
"This is a key example of our continued commitment to provide support and flexibility to all working parents and recognises the diversity of family life across all our offices and the many different routes to becoming a parent. It is an important step in creating a more inclusive workplace for everyone and supporting our working parents with their responsibilities as carers so they can thrive and develop in their careers."