Employers and employees alike need to be aware of their respective rights and obligations under changes to employment laws regarding parents. As such, a new set of guidelines from Business Link is helping to clarify this area.
Business Link was set up to help small- and medium-sized companies, and this latest initiative is aimed at guiding businesses through legislative changes that are coming into effect next April.
By taking the employer through a series of questions to establish their history with the employee, and some details about the child, the tools for maternity, paternity and adoption leave calculate the employer's specific obligation in each case.
Jonathan Hollow, editor of businesslink.gov.uk, said of the new tools: "Employers often see legislation changes as disruptive and expensive. Small businesses in particular feel vulnerable to the impact of having a member of staff on leave.
"We want businesses to use the tool as a starting point to help managers ensure the right measures and procedures are being followed, allowing employees to benefit from a more family-friendly workplace," he added.
What can seem a complex and confusing area is thus greatly simplified, allowing either an employer or employee to within minutes establish exactly where the law stands on their particular instance.
The changes that are being brought include greater rights for carers to enjoy the benefits of flexible working; employers are also helped by changes requiring an employee to give clearer notice over their leave intentions.
It is especially important that smaller companies and start-ups familiarise themselves with the law in areas such as this, as it is precisely these firms that would be unlikely to be equipped to deal with any legal action stemming from an employee.
From October 1st, employers and employees should be aware that for those set to deliver or adopt a child on or before August 1st 2007 the following applies:
- Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) for up to 39 weeks.- Up to one year off work for all pregnant women regardless of how long they have been employed by the company.- Eight weeks' notice from employees if planning to start back at work later or earlier than agreed.- 'Keep in touch' days to allow an arrangement between employee and employer to maintain contact with the workplace without obligation on either side to provide or carry out work tasks.
This last point in particular ties in with recent research published in the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology which found that employees find it easier to return to the workplace following maternity or adoption leave if they have maintained contact with their employer and workmates.
More information on the changes to the law regarding maternity and adoption leave can be found at the Business Link website. www.businesslink.gov.uk