Employers unprepared for employee take-up of new flexible work rights

Employers unprepared for new flexible working rightsThe new Shared Parental Leave legislation comes into force next week (1 December), but according to a new report, employers are unprepared for the changes. The Workforce View 2014/15 – an annual barometer of the views and attitudes of UK workers and employers by ADP,  also indicates that employers have underestimated the likely level of interest amongst employees. More than one in five (21 per cent) HR Directors admitted they are not ready for the requirements of the legislation, while 70 per cent say they predict little or no interest from employees in the first 12 months. Yet when employees were asked their views, a third (33 per cent) of 16- to 34-year-olds said they anticipate taking advantage of it within the next five years. Shared parental leave is a new right that will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed. It will be an option for parents with a child due to be born on or after 5 April 2015.

The new allowance is designed to make it easier for women to return to the workplace after having a child, facilitating a more equal distribution of childcare responsibilities.

Yet, despite the potential benefits for work-life balance and gender equality, more than one in 10 (11 per cent) workers questioned have not heard of Shared Parental Leave, rising to 13 per cent of 16- to 34-year-olds. This suggests an additional need for employers to educate staff to ensure they are all aware of the benefits and implications.

“The introduction of Shared Parental Leave represents a step change for working parents, allowing them to take more control over child care responsibilities in the challenging few months after birth,” said Annabel Jones, HR Director at ADP UK.

“Our findings show that many employees are keenly anticipating the changes and the potential benefits they will bring,” said Jones. “But some HR Directors may have underestimated the impact. In these cases, it’s time to start swotting up on the new rules, to ensure you’re ready to answer any upcoming employee questions.”