The government has announced that it will not be amending the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 before they come into force in October 2011. Draft guidance is expected to be published in early 2011. Employers will need to start planning for the changes, including reviewing their use of agency workers and the terms of their agreements with agencies.
Similarly, the new right to additional paternity leave, introduced by the last government for parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011, will remain in force. Fathers will be able to take paternity leave equivalent to the period of additional maternity leave unused by the mother. This will only be for an interim period, as the government intends to consult on a new system of flexible parental leave later this year.
Many employers have been holding off on amending maternity and paternity policies in light of earlier suggestions that the government might seek to avoid two sets of changes. They will now need to act quickly to ensure policies are updated. They will need to consider entitlement to bonus, pension and pay rises during leave, and whether to extend any contractual rights (eg a period of full pay) given to mothers on additional maternity leave to fathers on additional paternity leave.
A recent ECJ ruling (Alvarez v Sesa Start Espana) supports the view that the same benefits should apply to additional maternity and paternity leave, as the transferability of leave between parents suggests its purpose is no longer to protect the special relationship between mother and child.