At their July 2015 meeting, the States of Guernsey passed resolutions in relation to bringing in maternity, maternity support and adoption leave rights for employees.
In February 2012 the States approved the introduction of statutory maternity, maternity support and adoption leave and made recommendations in relation to Social Security benefits for expectant mothers and parents. It was intended to introduce statutory leave and changes to parental benefits at the same time.
To recap, the following maternity and maternity support leave will be introduced:
- statutory maternity leave (being 2 weeks’ compulsory maternity leave, 12 weeks’ basic statutory maternity leave and an enhanced period of 26 weeks’ statutory maternity leave for employees who have been continuously employed by their current employer for 15 months or longer);
- maternity support leave for the partner (being 2 weeks provided the partner has been continuously employed by their current employer for 15 months or longer); and
- leave similar to (a) and (b) above for parents who adopt children.
The Treasury and Resources Department and the Social Security Department have advised the Policy Council that they cannot bring final parental benefit funding proposals to the States until January 2017 at the earliest. So to continue with the original plan of introducing both aspects of the new regime at the same time would delay the introduction of the statutory leave provisions.
The States were therefore being asked by the Policy Council to choose between:
- delaying the introduction of statutory maternity and adoption leave until the changes to parental benefits are introduced; or
- introducing the statutory leave provisions now, leaving the parental benefits changes to be introduced at some time in the future, with this being the Policy Council’s recommended option.
Deputies Bebb and Le Lievre also asked the House to consider an amendment which would allow couples to elect which one would take the statutory leave or support leave meaning, in effect, the introduction of statutory shared parental leave.
The States resolved:
- to introduce the previously agreed statutory maternity leave, maternity support leave and adoption leave before the introduction of changes to parental benefits;
- to approve inclusion in existing legislation of provisions to enforce these new rights; and
- that the Commerce & Employment Department should return with a Policy Letter proposing the introduction of shared parental leave.
No commencement date was decided for the new maternity, maternity support and adoption leave legislation although we expect this to be before January 2017. In the debate Deputy Bebb said his discussions with Commerce & Employment indicated that the statutory leave regime could be introduced in the first half of 2016.
As changes to the benefits aspect of the regime have been delayed, the States did not consider who will fund the benefit. Pending the introduction of the changes to benefits a woman who, in future, takes the full statutory maternity leave of 26 weeks will not receive any benefits for the last 8 weeks as the current States’ maternity allowance is paid for a maximum of 18 weeks.
No decision was reached regarding shared parental leave save that Commerce and Employment should report back with recommendations.
The Policy Council’s policy letter, the amendment and the resolutions are all available on the States of Guernsey website (www.gov.gg)