The Act will create an employment right for new parents to share up to a year’s leave between themselves providing they have 26 weeks of continuous employment at the date of the application. Women will continue to be eligible for maternity leave and statutory maternity pay but if they choose to bring their allowance to an early end, the other parent will be able to take up the remaining allowance as part of shared parental leave.
It is your responsibility as a business to ensure your employees are aware of the parental leave policies you have in place and how it will be implemented. A simple maternity and paternity policy should cover eligibility, notification requirements and statutory parental pay, as well as when leave can be taken and when they have to return to work.
The right to request flexible working
The Act will extend the “right” to request flexible working to all employees providing they have been in continuous employment for 26 weeks. Flexible working can take the form of a change in working hours or the times and place of work. Businesses will still have a duty to consider the request, and they will still be allowed to refuse on business grounds.
With technology now making it easier than ever for people to work remotely (think cloud computing and video-conferencing, all of which can be accessed via laptops, smartphones and tablets), flexible working can work extremely well for many businesses with minimal, if any, disruption.
The key to making it work all round is to have a clear flexible working policy in place which covers the types of flexible working available, how requests will be considered, the potential reasons for refusing a request and informal flexible working requests that fall outside the system. Just ensure that as an employer, you process all requests in a reasonable manner and provide a timely decision.
Once your flexible working policy has been implemented, ensure that you then update each employee’s employment contract, if necessary, to formalise any changes to their individual terms of employment.
Getting your business up to date with new legislation or creating policies for the first time if you’re a new business needn’t be expensive or time-consuming. If you take advantage of the one-week free trial from an online legal service like www.rocketlawyer.co.uk, you can create all the above policies for free in less than 10 minutes each, and you can even consult an On Call lawyer for additional advice if needed.