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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber Expresses Parental Leave Concerns

Following today’s announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg about new shared paternity rules, George Cowcher, Chief Executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Business is not against the principle of shared parental leave, but there is a balance to strike between doing right by staff and managing the additional workload caused by employees on leave without creating extra costs which many businesses cannot afford.

"While some larger businesses and organisations may be able to absorb the impacts of these proposals, smaller firms will struggle to adapt to this new and fully-flexible system.

“It is only right that parents should have the opportunity to share their parental leave in a way which works best for their family. But, any such requests must allow sufficient time for employers to alter their planned cover, after the request has been agreed by the employers of both parents.

“It’s good to see there is a requirement on employees to give a minimum of eight weeks notice before using Flexible Parental Leave. However, the cap on requesting separate blocks of time off – at three per employee – will remove the ability of employers to veto patterns of leave which don't work for them and effectively allow employees to pick and choose when they want to work and when they want to take leave.

“It will also remove employers’ ability to hire fixed-term maternity cover and would force some employers to instead rely on zero hours contracts to provide cover for absent staff.
“We also have some concerns about the ‘one size fits all’ approach, which many employers will find too prescriptive.

“A smarter approach would be to initiate proper consultation with businesses on how best to empower them to manage requests for parental leave in a way which suits both the employer and the employee, rather than enforcing another blanket set of rules which restrict the flexibility of businesses which want to accommodate such requests.”