On July 18 2014 the States of Jersey approved the proposed Employment (Amendment No 8) (Jersey) Law 201. This will bring statutory family-friendly rights to Jersey for the first time, including maternity leave, paternity leave and the right to request flexible working. These proposals were originally raised in 2008. Six years later, it is likely that these family-friendly rights will come into effect on September 1 2015, at the same time as sex discrimination legislation. This follows on from the recent implementation of race discrimination legislation.
Such rights are common outside of Jersey and should provide employers with the opportunity to incentivise and support their workforce. If employers are flexible regarding these rights, they can use them to manage their workforce effectively.
The key points are as follows.
Employers will incur a direct financial cost of two weeks' full maternity pay, which must be paid at the employee's normal contractual salary. Thereafter, any maternity leave is unpaid. However, an employer can deduct the full amount of the statutory maternity allowance (currently £191.38) from the two weeks' maternity pay, whether the employee qualifies for the statutory maternity allowance or not.
The amended law will entitle all employees to eight weeks' maternity leave, regardless of length of service. Employees with over 15 months' service will be entitled to an additional 10 weeks of maternity leave.
All employees will be eligible for eight weeks of unpaid adoption leave. Employees with over 15 months' service will be entitled to an additional 10 weeks.
A partner with parental responsibility for a child can take two weeks' unpaid parental leave. This is similar to paternity leave, but is open to all partners, including those in civil partnerships. It is not limited to men.
All employees with 15 months' service and with parental responsibility for a child can request flexible working. Employers need not agree to a request, but any refusal must be based on one of the statutory grounds.
The States of Jersey has recently consulted on gender discrimination. The outcome of this consultation has not yet been published. However, there is a high degree of crossover between gender discrimination and family-friendly rights. The proposed legislation will have to be reviewed to see how the interplay between the two has been dealt with.
In a recent appeal before the Royal Court,(1) Commissioner Clyde-Smith has helpfully laid out the test for the Jersey Employment Tribunal to apply when faced with an application to stay a tribunal claim pending a Royal Court action.
The tribunal stayed Mr Piazza's claim on the basis that he intimated that he might bring subsequent proceedings in the Royal Court to enforce his contractual claim. The commissioner held that a stay is inappropriate where, as here, a Royal Court claim has not been issued. A claim should not be stayed in these circumstances.
However, if there are concurrent proceedings, the tribunal will consider a number of factors. The key questions are as follows:
- Which is the most appropriate venue?
- How can unnecessary repetition of costs be avoided?
This case provides useful guidelines for parties to consider where there are or might be claims before the Jersey Employment Tribunal and the Royal Court.
Finally, D-day has arrived. The Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013 came into force on September 1 2014, and it is now illegal to discriminate against a person on the grounds of his or her race.
Employers must update their policies and procedures accordingly.
For further information on this topic please contact Daniel Read at Ogier by telephone (+44 1534 504 000), fax (+44 1534 504 444) or email (email@example.com). The Ogier website can be accessed at www.ogier.com.