Family Friendly Rights – Change May be Coming

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The government is consulting on ways to provide families with more support and flexibility.

These proposals could have a significant impact on the way employers have to budget for parental and family leave.

Family-Related Leave

In order to address gender divisions, the government is asking whether it is more beneficial to new parents to:

  • increase the amount of pay and/or leave that can be taken
  • be able to take leave flexibly and not in the six months following birth

There is also an emphasis on encouraging fathers to take both paternity leave (for new babies) and parental leave (which can be used for a child up to 18).

Neo-Natal Care

This proposal is concerned with babies who are born prematurely, or babies who are born full-term, but require specialist care.

The government suggests that one week’s leave should be granted for each week that the baby requires neonatal care, which would be tacked onto the end of the parent’s maternity or paternity leave.

Spouses, civil partners or partners who will be living with the mother and baby would also be entitled to take the leave. This leave would be paid and would be in addition to standard maternity or paternity pay.

Transparency Around Flexible Working

Employees, the government has argued, need to be more aware of what is available to them and their entitlement. This could be achieved by making it compulsory for employers to advertise whether a job can be done flexibly, and if employers employ over 250 people, publishing their family-related leave and pay polices.

The first consultation ends on 29 November, whereas the second and third close on 11 October. To take part, visit www.gov.uk/government/consultation/good-work-plan-proposals-to-support-families or write to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy at 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET.

Gareth Edwards is a Partner in the Employment Law team at award-winning law firm VWV. Gareth can be contacted on 0117 314 5220 or at gedwards@vwv.co.uk.

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