April will be a time for families...
April will hopefully be a time for families on a social level given the relaxation of the lockdown and the hope the vaccine has brought.
A family friendly workplace has been and remains on the political agenda. 2020 saw the introduction of parental bereavement leave and family related pay increases have come into play this month. Beyond April, there is likely to be a raft of changes arising from proposals aimed at benefiting the working family.
Increase in pay rates from 04 April 2021
The previous statutory rate of pay of £151.20 per week for the various types of family friendly leave has increased to £151.97 per week from 04 April 2021. The type of leave taken will determine for how long the payment will be made.
Maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption and parental bereavement leave will all benefit from the pay increase. Other types of leave, such as dependent care leave and parental leave are unaffected and remain unpaid.
Ensuring there is a clear policy on parental bereavement leave and pay
Given the distraction that the current pandemic has caused for all businesses, the new right to parental bereavement leave may well have been overlooked in 2020.
In the sad event that an employee experiences the death of a child under 18 or a stillbirth on or after 6 April 2020, they are entitled to take parental bereavement leave. This is a Day 1 right for employees, which can last one week, two continuous weeks, or two separate weeks, starting on any day of the week. The leave may be used at any time in the first 56 weeks after death or stillbirth of the child.
Giving the unquestionable impact such an event will have on a parent, it is important that employers ensure there is a clear policy on these rights. The message to your employees is that they are valued and you will be there to support them through such a difficult time. From a management perspective, the policy will ensure managers are aware of the business’ legal obligations, which will help to minimise legal claims.
What might the future workplace look like for working families?
There are a number of key changes that have been talked about:
An extension to redundancy protection to prevent pregnancy/maternity discrimination. The proposal is to prohibit redundancy during both pregnancy and maternity leave and for six months following the return to work. The protection would start from when the employee announces her pregnancy. The maximum period could be nearly 18 months. Currently, an individual on maternity leave has the right to be given suitable alternative employment if their role is redundant.
The introduction of new rights for workers with caring responsibilities to take one week’s unpaid leave. This would supplement any other forms of leave such as parental leave of 18 weeks to be taken up to the child’s 18th birthday and dependent care leave, which is usually used for a short period to attend to a family emergency.
Allowing parents to take extended leave for neonatal care to care for premature or sick babies.
Making flexible working the default position unless there is a good reason not to. This may mean jobs will need to be advertised as being capable of being worked flexibly. This is to address the fact that very few jobs are currently advertised as being open to being undertaken flexibly. Currently, employees have to make a formal application for flexible working and employers have the opportunity to reject the application for business reasons.
What next for employers?
If not already done so, employers need to ensure that their policy on parental bereavement leave is clear, giving consideration to whether or not greater support than the statutory minimum will be offered. Managers need to be aware of the new rights to ensure that there can be no misunderstanding. Employees are protected from dismissal or suffering a detriment for exercising their right to this type of leave. An employment tribunal is going to come down hard on an employer who gets these rights wrong.
Employers need to ensure the slight increase in pay rates are now applied.
To manage any legal risk, policies and practices about family friendly rights should be reviewed to ensure that they are legally compliant, and management understands what the various rights and obligations entail. Complaints under the family friendly legislation often involve complaints of detrimental treatment and discrimination, all of which can be costly to resolve and in many cases could have been avoid.
FG Solicitors’ legal team are experts in helping its clients address its employment law and people management issues, so that they have greater certainty over their financial and operational outcomes.
If you would like to discuss any issues arising from family friendly leave or you need to overhaul your family-friendly policies, please feel free to call us on 0808 172 93 22 for a no obligation discussion.
WELCOME TO A MORE CONFIDENT FUTURE!
This update is for general guidance only and advice should be taken in relation to a particular set of circumstances.