Gales Solicitors urge employers to look at how they can prepare for changes to family friendly rights laws

Gales Solicitor’s Employment Lawyer Sarah England
Gales Solicitor’s Employment Lawyer Sarah England

Gales Solicitors is urging employers to look at how they can prepare for changes to family friendly rights laws which they advise will continue to be a hot topic in 2019, both in terms of new cases and the family in society at large.
 
Gales Solicitor’s Employment Lawyer Sarah England advised, “Shared parental leave (SPL) was introduced in 2015. A Government report cited that take up was as low as 2 % initially.  From the start, SPL rules were criticised by many as being overly technical and providing fruitful ground for many misunderstandings and potential claims. It is reasonable to expect more claims about entitlements to enhanced paternity pay after recent cases where it has been considered whether it is unlawful discrimination to pay men on SPL at a lower rate than mothers on maternity leave. We can expect more cases testing and clarifying entitlements under SPL during 2019 and arguing that it is indirect discrimination to enhance maternity pay but not shared parental pay.”
 
Sarah continued, “Employment tribunal claims have also shot up since the abolition of fees – recent statistics suggest a 165% increase in single claims. Employers need to be prepared for the increased likelihood of any policies treating mothers and fathers differently to be challenged, to assess their risk and exposure and to formulate their position.

“There is no ’traditional’ when it comes to families. Traditional concepts, such as that of the primary caregiver, are increasingly blurred. Employers, and the law, will need to adapt to reflect this reality.”
Concluding Sarah said, “Employers should think about how they want to handle situations which do not fall squarely within the confines of the legal framework, and whether they want to go above and beyond the strict legal interpretation of some statutory rights. The government is currently drafting regulations which will make up the Parental Bereavement ACT, which is expected to come into effect in April 2020. This new legislation will create a statutory requirement for employers to provide two weeks’ paid bereavement leave over a 56 week period, which will be available to take as a single block, or as two separate weeks, following the death of a child. Although this new legislation extends the current law in this area, the government is also encouraging employers to consider how they can provide enhanced bereavement and special leave provisions in their own policies.”

Anyone wishing to seek employment law advice is asked to contact Sarah England on Tel. 01202 422622   or sarah@gales-solicitors.co.uk  

 

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