The Government has launched a series of separate consultations on its proposals to reform family-related leave and pay, which include:

  • reforming current family related leave and pay entitlements;
  • reviewing the effectiveness of the shared parental leave and pay schemes;
  • introducing neonatal leave and pay; and
  • introducing a new duty on large employers to publish their family-friendly and flexible working policies.

The consultations are part of the second phase of measures proposed by the Government to implement The Good Work Plan, their response to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.

Reform of family related leave and pay entitlements

The consultation is seeking views on proposals to reform the current rights in relation to maternity, paternity, shared parental leave and pay, as well as unpaid parental leave.

One option proposed by the consultation is to move to a new single model for family-related leave, with set periods of "transferable" and "non-transferable" leave. The consultation acknowledges that this approach would require "a significant and sustained investment of resources" but going forward it could provide a preferable alternative to piecemeal amendments, which may unintentionally risk undermining the underlying policy objectives of individual leave and pay entitlements.

Review of the Shared Parental Leave system

Separately from the consultation above, the Government is reviewing the effectiveness of the shared parental leave and pay schemes, and this review should be completed by the end of 2019. The Government will then decide whether any steps need to be taken to amend the existing system.

Introduction of Neonatal Leave and pay

The Government is consulting on the introduction of neonatal leave and pay for parents of babies who require to spend a minimum of two continuous weeks in neonatal care, immediately after birth.

Under the new proposals, parents (regardless of their length of service) would be entitled to one week of neonatal leave and pay for each week that their baby requires to be in neonatal care, up to a maximum number of weeks (with views being sought on what this maximum should be).

It is proposed that neonatal leave would be available in addition to existing rights to time off for family-related leave and would be taken at the end of a father/partner's paternity leave and at the end of a mother's maternity leave.

Introducing duty for large employers to publish their family-related leave and pay policies.

The Government is also consulting on whether large employers (250+ employees) should be required to publish their family-related leave and pay policies and flexible working policies on their website, as well as potentially on a new facility on the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Portal.

Flexible Working

A further question the Government is asking as part of the consultation is whether job adverts should indicate whether the job role could be worked flexibly and, if so, whether this data should also be required to be recorded via the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Portal.

Separately, a Private Members Bill has been introduced in Parliament which seeks to require employers to offer flexible working in employment contracts and to advertise vacancies as suitable for flexible working unless certain conditions are met. The Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 16 July 2019.

Users of Brodies Workbox can access detailed information and FAQs on family-related leave, along with useful template policies here.

If you would like to discuss any of the matters raised in this blog further, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.