New guidance on flexible work rights, which come into force today

New guidance on flexible working rights which come into force todayNew flexible working law comes into force today, with shared parental leave (SPL) a new legal right which allows couples to share maternity or adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015. This means that couples finding out now that they are expecting a child will be among the first parents eligible to take advantage of these new rights. Workplace experts Acas are advising employers and employees to familiarise themselves with the law and has produced a free detailed guide on SPL to help prepare employers and employees for the new changes. It includes a step by step guide on how eligible employees can notify their employer on their intention to take leave and advice for employers on how to deal with SPL requests fairly. According to estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), there are expected to be around 285,000 working couples who will be eligible to share their leave from April. 

Acas Head of Guidance, Stewart Gee, said: “Our new shared parental leave guide is designed to help employers and employees understand how the new changes will affect them and how to manage leave requests fairly.

“We advise employers and employees to start having early discussions to ensure that they can agree the sort of arrangements which work best for business and working families. We are also running training courses to help employers prepare for the legal changes.”

Under the new system, a pregnant woman will continue to have access to 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of pay as she does currently but from 5 April, working families will have the opportunity to share this leave between them.

A key feature of shared parental leave is that it can be taken in several blocks. Eligible parents will be able to make use of a mixture of weeks of work and leave in the first year of their child’s life, returning to work between periods of leave if they wish. A parent with a partner who adopts a child will have the same rights, as will intended parents in surrogacy.

Click on Shared Parental Leave: A good practice guide for employers and employees for Acas’ full guidance