Following our successful Employment Breakfast Seminar this morning on "Family Friendly Rights in the Workplace," our Employment Department have put together the top ten key facts for employers to know regarding flexible working requests, shared parental leave and time off for ante-natal appointments. 

Flexible Working Requests

  1. Previously the right to request flexible working was only available to parents with children aged under 17 and certain carers but from 30th June 2014 it has been available to all employees.
  2. It is only a right to request, not a right to have.
  3. Employers must deal with the application in a reasonable manner and can only refuse a request for one (or more) of the following reasons: (i) burden of additional costs; (ii) detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand; (iii) inability to reorganise work among existing staff; (iv) inability to recruit additional staff; (v) detrimental impact on quality; (vi) detrimental impact on performance; (vii) insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; and/or (viii) planned structural changes. Think ahead to avoid the risk of discrimination and ensure rejections can be objectively justified. 

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and ShPP

  1. The regime will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption.
  2. The mother or adopter can split or share leave with her partner, or even alternate in taking time off from work.
  3. Employed mothers will be entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance. Paid Paternity Leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and a mother’s partner, however Additional Paternity Leave will be removed as SPL will replace it.

Time off for ante-natal appointments

  1. An expectant father or partner of a pregnant woman will be entitled to accompany the pregnant woman to up to 2 of her ante-natal appointments.  This time will be capped at 6 and a half hours per appointment and is unpaid.

What should employers do?

  1. Employers may want to develop new policies setting out their own rules and procedures (whilst ensuring any statutory minimum requirements are met).  We will be happy to advise you in crafting these new policies.
  2. Employers should educate management level staff as to how to deal with requests. We are very happy to work alongside in-house HR teams to deliver such training, in particular with regard to SPL, so employers are well equipped in advance of April 2015.
  3. The key issues for SPL are pay and avoiding discrimination. The two are linked. Employers must decide whether to enhance ShPP. If they don’t, but they pay enhanced maternity pay, they must be able to justify any indirect discrimination that arises.