From 1 September 2018, increases to maternity and parental leave and new rights regarding flexible working came into force. Under these Regulations employment rights have been extended to provide parents with more flexibility to help with their work and family responsibilities and promote gender balance in parenting.
Rights as of September 2018
Increase to 26 weeks of which 6 weeks is paid at 100% of pay by the employer, both with no qualifying period.
26 weeks of leave of which 2 weeks is paid at 100% of pay by the employer, both with no qualifying period.
Can be taken in up to 3 blocks of leave.
Paid and unpaid leave equivalent to maternity leave and parental leave.
Ante-natal – father/partner
The father/partner can have unlimited attendance at ante-natal appointments with up to 10 hours paid (the rest unpaid).
Right to request flexible working for all employees with no qualifying period.
What should you do now?
The Minister accepted the Forum’s recommendations and the above proposals came into force on 1 September 2018 with a second stage of amendments to the Law coming into force in September 2019.
If you haven't done already, you should ensure that your policies and procedures comply.
Employers (in particular smaller employers) will need to budget for the increased cost due to the amount of paid maternity and parental leave increases. There may also be the need for extra manpower whilst the individual is on maternity/parental leave. However, it must be borne in mind that when someone takes maternity/parental leave they are entitled to return to the same job as they left.
The Law also protects pregnancy and maternity leave by making it unlawful to discriminate, harass or victimise on these grounds. This also includes recruitment and promotion decisions.
An employer should now consider who in their business needs to know about the Regulations and perhaps provide specific training (if required). Employee handbooks and policies to new starters must also be updated to reflect the Regulations.