Q: What are employees with parental responsibility entitled to under the law in respect of parental leave?
A: Employees with parental responsibility for a child (for example, the child's father, or mother's husband, partner or civil partner) are entitled to two weeks' unpaid parental leave under the law (from 1 September 2015).
Q: Will any backdated sex discrimination claims be considered under the law?
A: That's an interesting one and one we get asked a lot. Generally, speaking laws don't have retrospective effect and this law is no different. However, very often discrimination takes place over a period of time and it is certainly the case that if there is discriminatory behaviour which commenced before the law came into force and continues after the law comes into force, those acts of discrimination which occurred before the law came into force may well be considered as part of any claim.
FAMILY FRIENDLY LAW
Q: Can we assume that because contracts comply with family friendly laws in the UK, that they will also comply with the new Jersey law?
A: Whilst generally speaking, benefits under UK law are greater than those under the Jersey law, there are some quirks in the Jersey law which may mean that even though the overall entitlement in the policy is greater than the Jersey law requires, it may not be in complete compliance with the law. We would recommend that all policies are reviewed to ensure compliance with the specifics of the Jersey law, just in case.
Q: Who can make a request for flexible working?
A1: Any employee who has been continuously employed by his/her employer for 15 months can make an application
A2: The right to request flexible working applies to those who have a caring responsibility for another person, although that person need not be a relative.
A1: The reason for the change in hours, times or place of work has to be to enable the employee to provide care but arguably there doesn't need to be a link between for example the time off requested and the level of care provided.
NEW MATERNITY LAWS
Q: When the new maternity laws come in what is the best process to go through with our existing contracts?
A: It would be a good idea to review your existing contracts and policies before the new maternity legislation come into force so that they are compliant with the law and ready for use from day one. Some of the things you will need to consider are whether your existing policy allows enough leave, whether that leave is paid, whether you allow 'KIT days' and how you treat certain employee entitlements and benefits during any period of leave. Don't forget that the family friendly laws also cover parental leave and adoption leave so these policies should be considered too. If your business doesn't already have policies to deal with maternity leave, parental leave and adoption leave, you might like to consider introducing them.
Q: If the company's contribution to an employee's pension scheme changes according to the employee's age, would this be seen as discriminatory in any way?
A: Such an approach is likely to be regarded as discriminatory in the normal, day-to-day, meaning of the word. However, because the Jersey anti-discrimination legislation does not currently prohibit discrimination on the grounds of age there would be no direct claim in that respect at the moment. Legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of age is anticipated next year. It is likely that a provision such as this one could be considered directly discriminatory, unless it can be objectively justified.
Q: If you grant flexible working for one employee, does that set a precedent for future requests?
A1: Each request needs to be considered on its merits and in accordance with the law. You may only decline a request on the basis of one of the reasons specified in the law, which are relatively broad and relate primarily to business needs. However, as an employer, regardless of the strict requirements of the law, it is also good practice to treat employees equally, unless there are good reasons not to do so, and to be consistent.
A2: Also, it's worth pointing out that an employee can only make one request in a 12 month period.