Roisin Hocking, Legal Assistant

Roisin Hocking, Legal Assistant

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

Maternity Leave

Increase to 26 weeks of which 6 weeks is paid at 100% of pay by the employer, both with no qualifying period.

Parental Leave

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.

Adoption 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).

Flexible Working

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.

Click here to arrange a review of your employment policies and procedures.