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New Family Friendly Employment Provisions

The Children and Families Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 13th March 2014. Its stated aim was to make the UK employment practices more flexible and family friendly. It seeks to achieve this in a number of different ways.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

There will be a new system of shared parental leave and pay.  Eligible employees will be entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks leave and 39 weeks statutory pay.  This leave and pay, other than the first two weeks, will be available for sharing.  The mother can if she wishes end her leave early and share the remaining leave with her partner or they can take leave together provided that the aggregate leave taken does not exceed the joint allowance.  When on shared leave employee’s benefit from the same protection as a woman on maternity leave namely all contractual terms will continue.  Shared parental leave will be available for parents with children expected to be born or placed for adoption from 5th April 2015.

Time Off to Attend Appointments

Fathers and partners will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to attend up to two ante-natal appointments of a maximum of six and a half hours per appointment.  If a request for time off is unreasonably refused an employee can complain to a tribunal where the remedy is compensation.

Right to Request Flexible Working

The right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with 26 weeks service instead of only those with caring responsibilities.  In addition the current rigid statutory procedure for requesting flexible working will be replaced by a new duty on employers to deal with requests reasonably within a reasonable period.  ACAS has published a Draft Code of Practice for handling requests to work flexibly in a reasonable manner to support the new duties.

Most importantly the proposition that employers should always approach requests for flexible working from the presumption that it will be granted unless there is a business reason for not doing so has been removed.  It has been replaced by the requirement to weigh the benefits of the request to the employee against any “adverse impact” to the employer’s business.  The original planned implementation date of 6th April 2014 has been altered to 30th June 2014.

If would like further information on this subject, please contact Richard Green on 01905 721630 or via email: rgg@parkinsonwright.co.uk

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