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Flexible working changes – your rights explained

by ParentalChoice
in Children
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Working Families - Parental Choice LtdAn interesting blog from our colleagues at www.workingfamilies.org.uk explaining some aspects of the new Children and Families Bill.

We were delighted to welcome the Government’s recent publication of the Children and Families Bill, which includes the extension of the right to request flexible working and the proposal to introduce shared parental leave.  Working Families has been campaigning for change on both these issues for many years.

Extension of the right to request flexible working: what this means for you

Most parents and carers already have the right to request flexible working.   The proposed change (which won’t take effect until 2014 at the earliest) means all employees will be able to request a change to their hours, times or place of work. Employers will have a duty to respond “reasonably” to requests and within a “reasonable” timetable.

Employers will only be able to turn down your request for one of the eight business reasons currently listed in statute, and they will have to complete all their deliberations within a timetable of three months (including allowing for any appeals).

It’s important to remember that we all may need flexibility at some time in our working lives, whether that be for childcare provision or for the care of elderly parents. Young workers are increasingly familiar with “merging” life and work, and older workers including grandparents may welcome the opportunity to scale down towards retirement. We hope the reform will speed cultural change in the workplace so everyone can get the work life balance they need.

Proposal to allow couples to share maternity leave: what this means for you

The key elements of the proposals on shared parental leave are:
a)            the ability to transfer leave and pay from mother to father (from two weeks after the baby is born) and the ability for parents to take leave   concurrently.

b)            the introduction of “shared parental pay”

c)            allowing leave to be taken “flexibly” in weekly blocks

d)            extending unpaid parental leave to 18 weeks and to parents of older children

e)            new provisions for adoption and surrogacy leave

Families can continue as now – with mothers able to take 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of pay. However, couples may opt to share the leave and pay if they wish.  To access the shared parental leave system, BOTH parents must be working, or recently employed.  Each parent must then qualify for shared parental leave and pay in their own right. Unlike today’s system, parents will be able to take leave at the same time and, with their employer’s agreement, take leave in weeks rather than one continuous block.

While welcoming the greater choices for some families in how they share first year leave, we are disappointed that there is little in the reform package for fathers in their own right.

On the positive side, fathers will acquire a new right to attend two (unpaid) antenatal care appointments with their pregnant partner.

Need some advice on your rights and work? Call our Parents and Carers Helpline on 0300 012 0312.

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