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New regime delivers changes for new working parents

7th April 2015

A leading employment expert is advising the region's employers to plan ahead to ensure they can deliver when it comes to changes affecting employees with babies due after 5 April this year.

"The Shared Parental Leave regime represents one of the biggest changes to employment law in recent years," states Sarah Cowen, a solicitor at Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons.

"The regulations offer working parents greater choice in how they care for their child in the first year after the child's birth, and employers need to ensure they fully understand the implications of the new regime so that they are ready to respond to the operational challenges that it will undoubtedly bring."

The new legislation will affect parents of babies born (or placed for adoption) after 5 April 2015. After this time, parents will be entitled to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of shared parental pay, provided that they meet the eligibility requirements.

"Shared Parental Leave provides for a statutory procedure under which maternity and/or adoption leave is first curtailed," explains Sarah, a specialist working in Higgs' Employment team. "This is followed by a series of notices given by both parents, setting out their entitlement and intention to take the leave and the period of leave that they wish to take.

"Perhaps for the first time, the regulations do not make the assumption that the mother will be the primary carer, so there is much greater choice for parents in how they manage childcare in the first year. However the implications are far reaching and complex, particularly for employers," she continues.

"Eligibility requirements, the statutory procedure itself and employees' special protection from being dismissed or subjected to detriment, all make for a complex piece of legislation and employers would be wise to consider what their policy on shared parental leave and pay will be and to update their employee handbooks accordingly. Above all, communicating with employees at the earliest possible opportunity is crucial.

"If employers would like to talk to someone about Shared Parental Leave and its impact on their organisation, we are more than happy to help."

For more information on Shared Parental Leave and pay, contact Damian Kelly, at Higgs & Sons. 08451115050 or via: damian.kelly@higgsandsons.co.uk .

 

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