Consultation on Government proposals for Flexible Parental Leave, Flexible Working, Working Time and Equal Pay

On 16 May 2011 the Government launched the Modern Workplaces Consultation, with the aim to change employment law to encourage a more fair and flexible approach at work.

The Consultation on Modern Workplaces puts forward the following proposals:

Flexible parental leave: introduces a new system of flexible parental leave from 2015 which retains the 18 weeks’ maternity leave for mothers. It proposes that the remainder of the current maternity leave should be reclassified as ‘parental leave’ available to either mother or father on an equal basis and allows each parent to have an exclusive use of 4 weeks’ paid leave. Other issues considered include giving fathers the right to unpaid leave for antenatal appointments.

Flexible working: extends the right that currently applies to parents with children under 17, of disabled children under 18, and to certain carers to request a contract variation. This obligation requires employers to consider any requests for flexible working more seriously, within a reasonable amount of time and to conduct the requests in a fair and reasonable manner.   

Working Time Regulations: amends the UK’s Working Time Regulations to incorporate the decisions made by the ECJ to allow workers who have not had the opportunity to use their holiday leave due to sickness absence, maternity and paternity leave to carry forward their holiday entitlement into the following holiday year. However, employers are able to limit the amount of holiday carried over to the four weeks leave required under the Working Time Directive.   Other issues considered include a proposal to allow employers to ‘buy out’ the additional 1.6 weeks or require employees to defer the leave until the first six month of the year.

Equal pay: aims to improve flexibility at work, encouraging greater transparency and ensuring effective enforcement of equal pay law. The proposal requires employment tribunals who have found an employer to have discriminated on gender in relation to pay to order the employer to conduct a pay audit and to publish their results, unless the tribunal is satisfied that it is not productive to do so.

The consultation aims to introduce secondary legislation to amend the Working Time Regulations, with implementation likely to be in 2012.

The Consultation on Modern Workplaces closes on 8 August 2011.

The material contained in this article is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances and before action is taken

Please contact:

Emmanuelle Ries - Partner

DD +44 (0)20 7553 9938

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