In 2019, family rights will continue to be a topic of significance.
There may be more claims about entitlements to enhanced paternity pay
Entitlements to family leaves seem to have been static for a while now. There have been new ideas and additions in terms of not just maternity, but also, paternity and adoption leaves. Since the introduction of shared paternity leave in 2015, there have been very few takers. It was criticised as overly technical and was considered a fruitful ground for claims and misunderstanding. The famous cases of Ali and Hextall are fair examples of the same.
Ali brought a claim for discrimination when he was informed by the employer that his rate of pay during paternity leave will not be same as to what a woman gets on maternity leave. Hextall brought a similar claim of direct discrimination.
As the takers of shared parental leave increase, we can expect more cases to be shot up in the coming year. However, it is important that employees are thoroughly aware of their rights and responsibilities before they go ahead and file a claim.
The changing dynamics of the modern family – the law will need to keep up
Modern families work in a myriad of ways. This was the reason shared parental leave was introduced in the first place. Claims of men bringing claims for paternity pay, the whole topic of family rights has taken a different dynamic.
The traditional concept, or a primary caregiver, is slowly evolving. It is important that employers, society, as well as law, adapt this reality.
Modern day families also pose some interesting legal questions in the area of employment, such as cases regarding the rights of families in surrogacy arrangements, or how lesbian couples manage maternity leaves.
Employers now need to think on how they want to handle these kind of situations and whether they want to go beyond the legal interpretations of rights and responsibility. It is also important that employees are confident in speaking about these sensitive issues.
Family policies should benefit more than just the employee
Companies are trying to be as innovative as possible when it comes to retaining the employees. Devising family policies is one solution. These policies show that employers are aware of their employees’ lifestyle and needs. There are return to work schemes, generous opportunities for caregivers to work from home and many companies even publicly announce a 52 weeks’ full pay as a part of paternity leave. There are other innovative approaches to consider such as leave rights for grandparents, childcare centres at work, etc.
Pay discussions are no longer taboo
There was a time when discussing pay was frowned upon. Thankfully now, it is a thing of the past, both at personal as well as national level. There have been measures taken to push transparency and gender pay reporting is now becoming a part of organisations to bring about much needed change. Government is also considering to introduce ethnic pay reporting and there will soon be a time when you will see listed companies of UK publishing their pay ratios. Increased transparency in pay is a huge and much needed cultural shift and it will only give power to employees to be more confident when it comes to raising issues and asking for more.
Protecting the bereaved & increasing special leave
The government is under the process of drafting new rules and regulations to make up the Parental Bereavement Act which will come in effect from April 2020. It is said to create a statutory requirement for employers to offer a two week paid leave which can be taken as a single block or in two parts after the death of a child. The government is also trying to encourage employers to provide special leave provisions in their current policies.
The year 2019 looks ready to continue conversations and developments around modern day working families and this is a good news for employees , especially the ones living in both, modern arrangements and traditional nuclear families.
Tom Street qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has over 20 years experience in employment and litigation law. He studied law at the University of Manchester before undertaking the legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford, going on to complete his legal training at a firm in Chancery Lane, London. Once fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2010, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.