As an employer you will of course be well aware of the new shared parental leave and pay rules introduced in respect of children due on or after 5 April 2015.
The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 permit employees to share up to a year’s leave between mother and father. This includes adoptive parents. Mothers are allowed to restrict their maternity leave and pay and share the remainder with their partner.
With the notice period being a minimum of eight weeks, requests are likely to start coming in this month. You will therefore need to put a process in place without delay to deal with such requests from expectant employees with babies due on or after 5 April.
It is reckoned by the Government that between two and six per cent of fathers will take advantage of their new rights, however this could be an underestimate according to some reports. Taking some time to speak with your bookkeepers and calculate the likely impact on your business is wise.
Be Mindful of Discrimination Claims
Aside from the direct financial impact, you also need to be mindful of the risk of discrimination claims. These can come about if you decide not to extend any enhanced maternity pay you offer to fathers as well as mothers. Whilst there is no legal requirement for you to do so, you will have to bear in mind the fact that fathers could cite you for sexual discrimination.
Acas has published a guide to the rules which will help you understand the finer detail of this latest employment law update. You should always seek legal advice when setting down new policies and procedures, or taking any action, so as to minimise your risk of facing a claim.
Plan Ahead for Financial Peace of Mind
It is also worth having a discussion with your bookkeepers as to the financial impact of changes to any employment legislation so that you can plan ahead. They will be able to help by running forecasts to show you how things may alter on the balance sheet, so that you can make any necessary changes within the business in advance.