Shared parental leave — fireworks or just a fizzle?

It has been on the horizon for some time now — a complete overhaul of parental leave as we know it is now less than 11 months away. An overhaul that has been described by some business leaders (who are not generally known for excessive hyperbole) as a ‘nightmare’ for smaller employers. On the other hand, the government’s own prediction that only two to eight per cent of eligible fathers/partners will take advantage of shared leave might leave one wondering what all the fuss is about.

Walker Morris’s previous business insight outlined some key points of the new scheme. Without a doubt, it will be quite a test for HR to get up to speed with and administer the new scheme smoothly from day one. Indeed, one employment barrister commenting on the draft regulations likened it to ‘playing four-dimensional chess’.

While the scheme is undoubtedly going to be complex and unwieldy, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has recently announced that it is currently working on a range of information and guidance materials for employers to help them ‘understand and access’ the new system. The materials will be made available in the summer and BIS says that they will include — cue drum roll — ‘online tools’. Depending on their quality, online tools could potentially be manna from heaven for the majority of employers who have read more than enough to ‘get’ the basic structure and policy of the regulations but are, nevertheless, struggling to envisage how it is all actually going to work in practice come April next year. Employers, after all, are the ones who are going to have to make this work in practice, write the new policies and explain it to their (likely to be confused) employees. So, further guidance from BIS is definitely a good thing and will be the source of some essential, if rather dry, holiday reading for many employers and their HR teams…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the Walker Morris briefing.

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