New family-friendly rights

16/04/2007 - 00:00
Question: "My restaurant manager is pregnant. I understand there are some new rules on maternity leave. What do I have to do to comply?"

Answer: From John Hayes, partner, Davenport Lyons The Working Families Act 2006 came into effect on 1 April 2007. The effect of the act is to extend the rights provided to working families - in particular the rights afforded to parents following the birth of a child or placement for adoption. Enhanced maternity entitlements All pregnant employees whose expected date of childbirth is after 1 April 2007 will be entitled to receive: The rights for adopting parents will be increased in a similar manner, for one adoptive parent and for any adoption placements made after 1 April 2007. Expected date of childbirth The extended benefits will only be provided if the expected date of childbirth falls after 1 April 2007. Returning to work After 1 April 2007, an employee must give at least eight weeks' notice to their employer of the date they will return to work. This has been increased from 28 days. The measure is designed to provide employers with advanced notice and certainty of the date on which an employee intends to return from maternity or adoptive leave. Further enhancements As a result of these changes, employers will have to bear the costs of extended statutory maternity pay of 13 weeks, together with the existing costs of providing maternity cover. The above changes are a stepping stone to the Government's overall goal, which is for statutory maternity pay and adoption pay to be increased to 52 weeks by 2010. It is also the Government's intention to increase paternity leave to 26 weeks, subject to qualifying conditions, in order to recognise the important contribution made by fathers during the early months of a newborn baby's life. Employers should expect to be kept on their toes in complying with new family friendly employment rights and should ensure that they maintain policies that cover the new rights and remain flexible enough to be amended in the near future to cover the new rights that will come into force. Weblink: Davenport Lyons employment home page Disclaimer: This document reflects the law and practice. It is general in nature, and does not purport in any way to be comprehensive or a substitute for specialist legal advice in individual circumstances.

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