The Good Work Plan was published late last year as the Government’s response to proposals in the Taylor report into modern working practices. Some changes were introduced immediately, with Regulations requiring a statement of employment particulars from day one, changing the calculation of holiday pay, removing a loophole in the Agency Worker Regulations, and increasing penalties for breaches of employment law.
Various consultations have now been issued looking at
- Proposals to support families, including the introduction of more paternity leave to encourage shared parenting, neonatal leave and requiring employers to publish their policies on flexible working and parental leave pay
- One sided flexibility, looking at abuse of zero hours arrangements; and
- Creating a single enforcement body for employment rights
If implemented, these proposals could have a significant impact for employment law.
The one sided flexibility consultation is seeking views on a right to reasonable notice of working hours and providing compensation to workers whose shifts are cancelled without reasonable notice. This could have a huge impact for workers on zero hours’ contracts, enabling them to better plan their working week. Organisations with workers on zero hours contracts will need to ensure that they plan rotas effectively. This could present problems if there is an unexpected surge or drop in work.
The proposals to support families are wide ranging and include
- additional leave for parents of babies needing neonatal care
- requiring job adverts to state whether the hirer is open to flexible working
- requiring larger organisations to publish their flexible working and parental pay policies
Work around changes to paternity leave appears to be at an earlier stage, with more open questions asked about whether paternity pay should be enhanced and/or paternity leave should be increased. Questions look at whether additional paternity leave should be available only where mums have gone back to work (to incentivise solo parenting by dads) or it should be more flexible, to allow both parents to be off together if that works for them. Views are sought on Shared Parental Leave and whether this should be reformed to give each parent a dedicated “pot” of leave and pay rather than the mother being the “gatekeeper” as is the case at present.
It could be that we see a move to a more Scandinavian model, incentivising more fathers to take time off to look after their children. Organisations may need to get used to far more fathers taking longer periods of parental leave. However, the flipside would be that mothers may be returning to work earlier.
Louise Taft is chairing the Employment Lawyers’ Association’s response to the Consultation on Proposals to Support Families so will keep a watching brief on developments. Contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7935 3522 if you have any questions about family friendly policies or parental leave.
Whatever your personal circumstances the above is only a guide and we would advise you to contact us to obtain definitive advice as you will appreciate that each person’s circumstances are unique to them.