Workers Urged To Discuss Parental Leave With Employers

Employees Reminded To Find Out About Rights Under New Laws


Workers are being urged to discuss changes surrounding parental leave with their employers ahead of the new laws, which are available to parents whose baby is expected to be born on or after 5 April 2015 (or where the adoption takes place from that date).

Eligible parents can share up to 50 weeks’ of leave between them and up to 37 weeks’ pay. Nearly 300,000 couples are expected to be entitled to leave every year.

Parents and adoptive couples are eligible when one is employed for at least 6 months, by the fifteenth week before the expected week of birth (or adoption) , and the other is, or has recently been, employed or self-employed who satisfies a separate earnings threshold.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said: "Shared parental leave will kick-start a change where fathers feel empowered to take time off to look after their kids and not feel constrained by outdated stereotypes."

Regarding the importance of employees discussing the changes with their employers, Swinson added: "We recognise that this isn’t going to be easy for those at the forefront of the change. But we know that many employers are incredibly supportive and keen to offer mums and dads more flexibility.

"Employers will see the benefit in terms of staff loyalty and providing women the option to return to work earlier."

Expert Opinion
It is vital that employers react quickly to the new shared parental leave laws, as time is now undoubtedly running out for them to make preparations. Parents don’t have to wait until 5 April to ask to take shared parental leave and some employers have already received applications. Key issues to consider for employers will be how to handle requests in the correct way, particularly with one eye on avoiding any potentially costly discrimination claims.

"Steps should be taken to address these issues as indications from research are that employees will keen to take advantage of this new approach to leave.

"This was particularly emphasised in a survey by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills last month suggested more than half of the UK believes childcare should be shared equally between parents."
Glenn Hayes, Partner