Shared Parental Leave – one year on

 

5 April 2016 marks the first anniversary of the launch of Shared Parental Leave (SPL), the revolutionary policy that allows couples to share leave surrounding the arrival of a new addition to the family.  The hope is to help women back into the workplace quicker and give men the opportunity to care full-time for their new baby or adopted child in the important first year.

My Family Care and the Women’s Business Council conducted research on the story so far and found that just 1% of men (all men that is, not just eligible men based on their feedback) have so far taken up the opportunity to share their partner’s parental leave, while 55% of women say they wouldn’t want to share their maternity leave.

The combined survey of over 1,000 parents and 200 businesses found that taking up SPL was very much dependent on a person’s individual circumstances, particularly on their financial situation and the level of paternity pay available from their employer.  The main reasons for lack of take up by men are affordability, lack of awareness and unwillingness of women to share the leave entitlement.  While take up is still low, the research found that men are interested in taking SPL in the future.  Of those surveyed, 63% of men who already had children and were considering having more said it was likely they would choose to take SPL.

Of the 200 employers asked, the majority said that they enhanced both maternity (77%) and paternity (65%) pay.  The core reasons were to be consistent with their culture of fairness and equality and to increase employee retention and gender diversity.

Outwith the survey’s findings there is perceived a reluctance to engage on the part of fathers in case this is interpreted as lack of career commitment.

Employment Tribunals Scotland – Devolution

 scales of justice

The Scotland Bill is currently working its way through Westminster. One of the provisions allows for the Employment Tribunal in Scotland to become a devolved matter. In anticipation of this, the Scottish Government is currently consulting regarding the transfer of certain functions of the Employment Tribunal to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland, which currently deals with a variety of matters, including immigration housing and welfare.

 Scottish Engineering has submitted a response to the consultation (which is due to close on 24th March 2016) expressing a number of reservations about the current proposals, including parity of service with other parts of the UK, the position of the current Employment Tribunal Judges, and the possibility of UK wide legislation being interpreted differently north and south of the border.

 We will report on the outcome of the consultation once that is published by the Scottish Government.

 

Holiday Pay Update

The Employment Appeal Tribunal issued its decision in the Lock v British Gas case at the end of February 2016.

The EAT, rejected British Gas’ appeal and confirmed that Mr Lock is entitled to holiday pay which includes an element for the amount of commission he would normally receive when working his regular hours. The Lock decision follows on from the EAT’s judgement in the  Bear Scotland case, which confirmed that all regular overtime, which employees are obliged to perform if requested by the employer, should be included for holiday pay purposes. However it is important to remember that this top up only needs to be paid for 20 days’ worth of annual leave per year.

 

Unfortunately, the Lock decision does not provide any further clarity on the reference period over which average earnings must be assessed in calculating holiday pay. Accordingly uncertainty remains over how to calculate claim for previous underpaid holiday and how it should be calculated going forward. British Gas has stated that it intends to appeal the EAT’s decision, so watch this space for future developments……