New Parental Leave Regulations effective September 1, 2019 – employees will be entitled to 22 weeks unpaid parental leave which is an additional 4 weeks on current entitlements. This will then increase by a further 4 weeks to 26 weeks from 1 September 2020.
The new Parental Leave Act also increases the maximum age of the child for whom parental leave can be taken, allowing parents to take parental leave for children up to 12 years of age – instead of 8 years.
Employees will be able to take the leave in blocks, and this is clearly stated in the legislation, however many employees reach agreement with their employers to take the leave in other forms – such as 1 day per week.
Employers need to consider what is suitable for their business, as they will need to allow for parental leave, but also enable the business to run, and small organisations may find certain types of leave too difficult (such as an employee in a Call Centre or Manufacturing taking 1 day/week). The employer must consent to leave taken in other forms as opposed to 1 or 2 blocks.
Larger companies can agree to, and manage, fragmented parental leave, so it is vital to word the parental leave policy to ensure it is both compliant with the new legislation, but also workable for the organisation.
There is no data available on the number of employees availing of parental leave as it is unpaid (unless otherwise agreed by companies), however it is clear that many females avail of further parental leave at the end of maternity leave, and again to have more time with young children.
More data will become available from November 2019 onwards, as this new scheme will provide 2 weeks paid parental leave during the first 12 months of a baby’s life – this leave will be available for either the mother or father of the child.
Voltedge supports clients in wording their policies to ensure that the policies are appropriate for the organisation, as well as ensuring compliance.