Complex new rules on Shared Parental Leave come into force on Monday, warn employment law solicitors at Coles Miller.
Working mothers-to-be will be able to curtail their maternity leave and pass the remaining time to their partners.
The new rules will affect parents of babies due to be born on or after April 5 2015 but employers need to take action now.
Coles Miller employment law solicitor Neil Andrews said: “Not all fathers will want to take advantage of these new concessions but that is no reason for employers to be complacent.
“Employers must get their policies and procedures in order - or risk falling victim to a number of pitfalls.
“By failing to implement Shared Parental Leave (SPL) correctly, employers could unwittingly leave themselves open to accusations of discrimination - for which there is no cap on damages,” he added.
Coles Miller advises employers to:
- decide on their approach to shared parental pay, whether to pay enhanced pay or merely statutory rates
- draft and implement a new SPL policy and notifications for employees
- review existing maternity, paternity and adoption policies
- ensure all managers, HR and payroll staff understand and comply with the new rules.
Under the new rules, expectant mothers will be eligible for Shared Parental Leave if they:
- have completed 26 weeks of continuous service by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) and remain in continuous employment with the same employer until the week before the Shared Parental Leave
- have been employed or self-employed for any part of the week for at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the EWC and have average weekly earnings of not less than the maternity allowance threshold
- will have the main responsibility (apart from the partner) for caring for the child at the time of its birth
- are entitled to statutory maternity leave and elect to curtail it
- comply with notification and evidence requirements.
Mr Andrews said: “The new rules will be burdensome for employers but the only way to deal with them is to grasp the nettle and take swift action.
“These new regulations have already been criticised as being overly complex so expert legal advice is essential,” she added.
Coles Miller has one of the largest teams of commercial solicitors in the Bournemouth and Poole area.
Their employment law work includes unfair dismissal, discrimination claims, flexible working, TUPE, restrictive covenants, health and safety, data protection and business reorganisations.
Coles Miller has 14 Partners and 120 staff based at four offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Broadstone and Wimborne.
For further details, contact employment law solicitor Neil Andrews at Coles Miller, 01202 673011.