I wasn’t surprised to meet a lot of business owners at Avensure’s recent Swindon Seminar who were particularly anxious about the new Shared Parental Leave (SPL) legislation. These changes to maternity policies have littered the news of late – but whilst many of those I spoke to felt to be a positive move forward, the complexities of implementing these changes, and the penalties of getting it wrong, were massively daunting to the majority of our delegates. It seems a common response. Recent surveys show that a tony minority of 14% of businesses currently support SPL, but with 83% of parents considering taking advantage of it, employers need to get their policies in place. And fast!
The Shared Parental Leave regulations that come into action this month mean anyone who is due to give birth or adopt is entitled to split their leave with their partner. The mother has to take two weeks off but the remaining 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory parental pay can be shared and either taken at the same time, separately, or in a series of chunks, if their employers agree. If you want to know more about SPL, I strongly recommend an article written by my colleague, Nitu Patel: Navigating Shared Parental Leave
Most employers seem fine with the concept of Share Parental Leave. They understand the benefits. Yet the nitty gritty details continue to be a source of contention: how am in to implement the changes? How will it impact on my business? What does this mean to future recruitment policies?
Most employers I’ve been speaking with have been really worried about the following points:
- Pay structures – what statutory support will the family receive?
- Eligibility – how long do staff need to be working for me until they’re entitled to SPL?
- Application and signoff procedures – What official documents must we submit, and to whom?
- Amending contracts – what do I need to do? How do I word it? Do they need to re-sign it?
- Implementation into the company culture – Every workplace is different, so do I wait for my staff to ask for it, or do I pre-empt requests and let them know where we stand? And…
- The potential liability of discrimination if they get it wrong – how do I cover myself from unwittingly discriminating a member of staff? 80% of discrimination cases are unintentional.
In the short term, our advisors recommend all employers, straight away:
- Set up a strong parental leave policy to save yourself that admin headache down the line
- Take a closer look at your staff availability contingency plan – now ANY of your staff could be off for up to 50 weeks, not just the ladies.
If you need help with any of these issues, give us a call. Every business is different, and generally in HR there’s no one size fits all solution.