The Work and Families Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 has introduced important changes that employers must be aware of, notably shared parental leave, ante-natal appointments and flexible working. Detailed below is a whistle stop tour of these changes:-
Shared Parental Leave
Eligible employees of babies due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5th April 2015 have a new statutory entitlement to shared parental leave and pay.
Under the new regime, mums will still take at least 2 weeks of maternity leave after birth but after that couples have the opportunity to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 39 weeks of pay.
Eligible mothers will be able to volunteer to end their maternity leave and/or pay early to create leave and pay which they can share with the child's father or their partner as shared parental leave and pay.
How it will work-
- Shared parental leave must be taken in weekly blocks. It can be stopped and started so periods of work may be interspersed with periods of leave for childcare. Each parent notifies their employer of their entitlement and "books" the leave with at least 8 weeks notice;
- An employee may book more then one period of leave in a single booking notification;
- An employee may submit up to three booking notifications;
- Where requested as discontinuous blocks the employer may require the employee to take leave in a continuous block at a date chosen by the employee;
- Each parent can use up to twenty "in touch" days to go into work and could effectively take shared parental leave and work on a part time basis for a period; and
- Shared parental leave can be taken at any time in the first years following the child's birth/placement.
Partners will be allowed time off for up to two ante-natal appointments capped at 6.5 hours per appointment.
Every employee has the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment and this will be dealt with under the existing regime with the nine statutory reasons for refusal.
It is essential that employers move quickly to prepare for these changes and review and update family leave policies. Contact Andrea McCann, Employment Partner, for further information and assistance in your preparation on 028 90 23 2303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.