The Bill includes reforms to the way in which parents can share maternity leave as well as the extension of the right to request flexible working. Wow how different it was when I had my children, there was no paternity leave or childcare vouchers, perhaps the bill could include provision for backdating those benefits!. More seriously under the new system of shared parental leave:
• Employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave as a “day one” right
• Mothers can choose to end their maternity leave after the initial two-week recovery period, and then parents can decide how they want to share the remaining leave
• Fathers will gain a new right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments
• There will be new statutory payment for parents on shared parental leave with the same qualifying requirements that currently apply to statutory maternity and paternity pay
• Those who have adopted a child will be entitled to the same pay and leave as birth parents.
Of key interest is the fact the Bill also extends the right to request flexible working to all employees and removes the current statutory procedure for considering requests. Instead employers will have a duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner.
I agree wholeheartedly with business minister, Jo Swinson’s comments in the article that she believes the new system is good for business and that the bill will create a more motivated, flexible and talented workforce. That employers will be able to attract and retain women (with fewer dropping out of the world of work once they start a family) and also that flexible working will widen the pool of talent in the labour market, helping to drive growth.
In my experience, organisations with a more flexible workforce understand that flexible working brings real improvements in productivity, better retention rates, reduced absenteeism and engaged and motivated employees. An automated workforce management system can make managing a more flexible workforce easier whether it is; aligning the right skills to the business demand whilst accommodating employee preferences, engaging a more mobile workforce, or managing annualised hour’s schemes and ensuing compliance to the latest legislation.
If you want to know more feel free to download the whitepaper ‘Reaping the Rewards of Flexible Working’ or take a look at our previous blogs on flexible working.
Do you think this Bill will encourage more employees to share parental leave equally I would be interested to hear?