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Employers not ready for shared parental leave

Although a new regime of shared parental leave comes into force in December, nine out of 10 employers have not yet reviewed or amended their policies, according to a survey by legal firm Eversheds.

The new regime will apply to the parents (natural or adoptive) of children due on or after 5 April 2015.

Shared parental leave allows families to share leave in the first year of their child's birth, with mothers and fathers able to take up to a year of leave or several months at the same time. This includes taking leave in discontinuous or fragmented blocks, providing they give the required period of notice.

The survey shows employers to be unprepared for this part of the legislation, with just 6% saying they would be able to absorb the impact of the leave changes.

Almost half (45%) say they will be amending their policies and procedures between October and November, and 36% plan to wait until after November.

The survey also found that:

  • 95% of respondents are concerned by or have not considered the potential impact of the changes
  • More than two thirds suggest they will tackle the challenges of discontinuous leave by encouraging employees to share their leave intentions as early as possible
  • 55% currently offer enhanced maternity pay but only 20% plan to extend enhanced maternity pay to those taking shared parental leave
  • 90% do not offer a return to work bonus
  • 65% say that none of the new fathers in their organisation had used the existing right to additional paternity leave in the previous 12 months
  • 90% have not as yet amended their HR policies to reflect the new regime
  • 82% have allowed a flexible working request

The full Eversheds report and findings can be found here.

Acas publications and services

Acas offers detailed advice on shared parental leave and Maternity rights. Its experts can visit your organisation and help you find ways to improve the experiences of working parents. See Parents and carers: how Acas can help for details.

Practical training is also offered on Maternity, paternity and adoption, Flexible working, and Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010.

For free, impartial advice on any employment relations issue, call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100, or consult Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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