Legal Updates? What You Need to Know Now

In November 2013 I ran a workshop to share some of the more recent employment law updates. Here are the details of just three of the issues we covered and what you need to know.

Flexible working. At present, parents and carers with at least 26 weeks employment can make one request for flexible working in 12 months and a statutory procedure applies to considering the request. From Spring 2014, all employees with at least 26 weeks continuous employment can make one request for flexible working in 12 months. Requests must be considered in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable period.

ACAS has produced a draft code for you to follow, when considering flexible working requests, which says:

  • Talk to your employee as soon as possible
  • Discuss the request in private but allow your employee to be accompanied
  • Approach requests from the presumption that they will be granted unless there is a business reason for not doing so
  • Inform your employee of your decision in writing as soon as possible
  • If your employee’s request is granted, or granted with modifications, discuss with them how and when the changes might best be implemented
  • If your employee’s request is rejected, ensure that the rejection is for one of the business reasons permitted by legislation and allow the employee to appeal it
  • Consider and decide on all requests, including any appeals, within a period of three months from initial receipt, unless an extension is agreed with the employee.

Shared parental leave. The law currently says that mothers can take 52 weeks maternity leave (39 paid weeks and 13 unpaid weeks) and that fathers or partners can take 2 weeks ordinary paternity leave, with the right to take up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave. From Spring 2015 you will need to consider shared paternity leave. This gives new parents the possibility of sharing the untaken balance of maternity leave and receiving pay for ‘flexible parental leave’. This is where parents can share 50 weeks leave and the 37 weeks pay due to the mother. Flexible parental leave can be taken in one week blocks interspersed with work and parents can take leave at the same time.

Unpaid parental leave. Currently, an employee with one year’s service and a child under 5 can take 18 weeks unpaid parental leave. This applies to each child and to each parent, with a maximum of 4 weeks unpaid leave allowed in any year. From 2015, the age of the child will increase from 5 to 18 years.

Does all this sound too confusing? If it does or you’re worried about how any of these changes will affect your business, please do get in touch and we can talk about it.

I’ll be running another employment law update in May 2014, after the next round of changes happen in April next year. Keep an eye on this blog for the date and details.