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16th April 2015

Shared parental leave – what’s your policy?

young couple sitting together thinking about his comming baby in pregnancy conceptThe concept is fairly simple. Mother and father share caring (or the trials) in the early months of a child’s life. It should foster bonding and stronger families. Ultimately, perhaps, a better society. But what of the employer(s)?

There simplicity ends. There are usually four parties in this situation: the mother, the other parent, the mother’s employer and the other parent’s employer. There are multiple conditions to be met for eligibility (different for the mother as from the other parent). Leave can be shared in discontinuous periods or continuous periods. There are several notifications required by the employees (there could be 11, conceivably more, depending on the circumstances). Then there are set deadlines, including ones for the employer, et cetera, et cetera.

Why have a policy and procedure?

Having a policy and procedure will help you navigate your way through this new employment right. A policy allows employees to answer their own questions. Even if they cannot follow it themselves, they may be able to show family or friends the document. We have found that employers who have a maternity policy and procedure in their employee handbook get far fewer queries about these rights and, we suspect, have fewer misunderstandings.

Having a policy in place brands you as a good, reputable employer. That can improve attendance, ease recruitment and increase retention. Employees who feel fairly treated tend, in turn, to treat service users better.

There are also all of the usual benefits wherever outside scrutiny is be involved. Whether is a CQC inspection or an employment tribunal, employers with good policies and procedures in place always fare better.

Choosing a policy and procedure

I wouldn’t recommend that you write your own; although you might adapt one from elsewhere to your particular circumstances.

  • Use the ACAS template. Unquestionably this has good credentials, making it easier to defend your position in the event of dispute. But it is a cover-all policy and not all of it will apply in every situation. Adapting it to your particular situation could be a challenge. For example, factory workers are treated slightly differently. If you don’t employ factory workers then you obviously don’t need reference to them in your policy. The template is also quite long and uses accurate, but often unfamiliar, terminology.
  • Adopt the QCS policy. This is written with the care sector in mind, is designed to be user-friendly and it guides you, as well as the employee. The QCS policy will be kept up-to-date with any changes or amendments to the regulations, or with any best practice suggestions gleaned from the implementation of this new process.

Malcolm Martin of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert contributor

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