Family-friendly legislation

As an employer, it is vital you stay up to date with family-friendly legislation. Otherwise, you might find your business facing costly legal action.

First4Lawyers can help your business with family-friendly legislation

Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that three in four mothers (77%) said they had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave, and/or on return from maternity leave. That could give them grounds to take employers to court.

Our business solicitors are here to offer all the help and advice you need on maternity and paternity leave. In fact, we can provide expert support on all aspects of family-friendly law. To find out more, please get in contact.

What are the family-friendly rights that I may need to address in my workplace?

Family-friendly legislation addresses the following:

  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Parental leave
  • Flexible working
  • Time off for dependents
  • Adoption leave

Each of these categories of family-friendly rights has its own criteria and process. For example, the right to request flexible working only applies to those who have worked continuously for you for a period of 26 weeks.

Can I refuse a request to grant family-friendly working arrangements?

Maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and adoption leave are statutory rights. With this in mind, you must grant at least the minimum the law allows, as long as they are classified as an employee and not a worker and they give you the proper notice.

In the case of maternity, employees are entitled to up 39 weeks of paid leave and an additional 13 weeks of unpaid leave. New mothers do not have to take the whole 52 weeks of leave. However, they must take two weeks of compulsory leave. This extends to four weeks if they work in a factory.
You may only refuse flexible working arrangements if there is a legitimate business reason for doing so.

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What are the possible costs of failing to adhere to family-friendly legislation?

Failing to honour family-friendly legislation could increase the threat of costly tribunal claims against you or your business. Yet more than that, by handling any part of the family-friendly working process badly, you run the risk of creating a disgruntled workforce, which could decrease productivity. It could also affect your reputation and that of your business.

As an employer, how do I bear in mind legislation when creating a family-friendly workplace?

The process of making your workplace more family-friendly involves creating a good balance between the needs of your business and those of your employees. This can be difficult to organise and put into practice, but it can certainly be done.

  1. Create a family-friendly working environment
    The first step is to create a family-friendly culture that offers support to parents in your business. You can do this by making your management and staff aware of their rights with regard to paid and unpaid leave.
  2. Consider offering paid and unpaid leave above and beyond the minimum
    By offering paid and unpaid leave beyond the minimum legal requirements, you help to create an environment that may keep your employees happy and even boost productivity.

    Provide flexible working arrangements that suit the specific needs of your employees. For example, this could include shift work, working from home or job sharing.

    Develop internal policies and procedures to grow a family-friendly culture and offer flexible working in your business, it is important to create internal policies that help guide and educate your employees. Having such policies in place could decrease the chances of your employees bringing claims against you.

I need further legal advice on family-friendly legislation – what happens next?

Family legislation means you must support the needs of your employees with children. This will help protect the future success and reputation of your business.

Our specialist business solicitors are here to guide you through the process. To find out more, or to for a free, no-obligation discussion of your needs, contact our legal advisors, who will be pleased to help.

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