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Becoming family-friendly

HR experts, The HR Dept, are advising employers to check their family-friendly rules as changes to parental leave come into force on 8th March 2013.

Parental leave entitlement will increase from 13 weeks to 18 weeks on 8th March 2013 and can be taken up until a child’s fifth birthday or fifth anniversary of an adoption (18th birthday if a child is disabled). Currently, eligible employees with children are able to take up to 13 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their children until their child’s fifth birthday, the fifth anniversary of an adoption or the 18th birthday of a disabled child.

The HR Dept comments: “As a family-friendly company ourselves it’s great to see that the Coalition is trying to make things more streamlined with this change as it can often be confusing to employers and employees with the various conditions that surround parental leave entitlement. Yet many working fathers are reluctant to take unpaid leave due to the fear that becoming a father and sharing the parenting will damage his career. There is still a long way to go until we become a nation of family-friendly employers and there is always complicated employment law to navigate.”

An employee must have at least a year’s service with the company before they qualify for unpaid parental leave and unfortunately foster parents do not qualify. No more than four weeks of unpaid parental leave can be taken in one year, in blocks of one working week, with employees needing to provide written notice. A ‘week’ equals the length of time an employee normally works in a week, so if an employee normally works three days a week, one ‘week’ would comprise of three days. The HR Dept is advising employers of all sizes to be mindful of the change and be prepared if an eligible employee wishes to take leave. Although take up is very low as the leave is unpaid, it is important that written notice is received by the employee to ensure the business can plan ahead.

The HR Dept specialises in advising small and medium sized businesses on all employment issues.

Monday, January 28, 2013