Shared Parental Leave, Flexible Working and Fit Notes are all examples of recent Government legislation that makes managing a workforce more complex. It can make compliance and avoiding accusations of discrimination a real headache.
I recently read a press release from the CIPD that discussed the challenges the administration of the proposed legislation on shared parental leave will bring. One of issues is that parents will be allowed the flexibility to take the leave when they feel they need it. This makes it difficult for employers to plan recruitment requirements and cover for the leave and has led to a proposal that parents should give 8 weeks’ notice prior to taking leave – which would alleviate some of the pressure on the employer and that was seen as a fair request by the CIPD.
Another issue is that that there are different notice periods for paternity pay and leave that inevitably causes confusion to both employer and employee. To address this confusion another proposal has been made that parental leave is aligned with the notice period for paternity leave and pay at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of child birth, which the CIPD also support.
From 2014, the statutory procedure for considering flexible working requests will be replaced by a requirement on employers to deal with all requests “in a reasonable manner” and in a recent article in Personnel Today I read how ACAS have issued a draft code around dealing with these flexible working requests. The draft code is designed to be easy to understand and simple to use. It comprises 13 principles that will be taken into account by employment tribunals when considering cases arising out of the flexible working legislation. Managing a flexible workforce can be tricky for employers and the system must still be seen as fair for it to work. If you want to find out more you can find a copy of the draft ACAS proposal here.
The Fit Note legislation which was brought in two years ago to help manage employees back to work following sickness leave, has already run into difficulties because doctors felt they were too busy to manage the ‘fit-note’ process and, also felt they didn’t know enough about the employee’s work or workplace to be able to make the call on what arrangements or changes should be made for someone returning to work.
These compliance headaches can be reduced. With the right workforce management tools, employers can have the automation, information, and visibility to foresee when their organisation could be at risk of litigation or the subsequent financial challenges. Automated tools can help them keep pace with Central Government and industry regulations so you can apply appropriate policies and rules easily, and correctly, to facilitate compliance. Employers will also have a reliable record of all employee information to document that these policies are being applied consistently and fairly throughout their organisation.