The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced on twitter that the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks' service will be "available" from 30 June this year. This presumably means that requests can be made under the new regime from 30 June. It was originally planned to start in April but has been delayed by the slow progress of the Children and Families Bill, now in its final stages in Parliament.
BIS has also published draft regulations on the new shared parental leave (SPL) and pay regime, available for births and adoptions from April next year. The regulations reflect the Government's response to consultation last year; the key points for employers are:
- Employees will have to give eight weeks' notice of their intention to opt-in to SPL and of any subsequent request for leave.
- When a couple initially opt-in to the shared parental leave system, they will have to give a non-binding indication of how they are intending to take their shared parental leave.
- The number of notifications of SPL (or changes to SPL) that employees will be able to give will be limited to three, unless the employer is willing to allow more requests.
- Employers will not be obliged to agree to the leave pattern proposed by their employees. The default position where agreement cannot be reached will be for an employee to take their share of the leave in one continuous block.
- SPL will have to be taken within 52 weeks of a child's birth.
- 20 days' work will be available to each parent during shared parental leave. This will be in addition to the Keeping in Touch (KIT) days a woman can take during maternity leave.
- The right to return to the same job will apply to employees returning from any period of leave that includes maternity, paternity, adoption and SPL that totals 26 weeks or less in aggregate, even if the leave is taken in discontinuous blocks.