1 May 2015 by

Eggstra Easter Problems and Shared Parental Leave – the latest Employment Law News

So you’ve had your fill of Easter eggs and now have a strict regime as we head towards the Summer BUT, being a movable feast, Easter keeps us on our toes. And that’s certainly going to be the case for some employers over the next few years as they’ll have to accommodate employees’ eggstra days off. Here’s why:

  • If you run an April to March holiday year and your contracts provide for 20 days annual leave plus bank holidays (of which there are eight) then the dates on which Easter falls mean you’ll have to do some adjusting. This year, Good Friday and Easter Monday fell on 3 April and 6 April. Next year, they’ll be on 25 March and 28 March. So two Easters will fall within one holiday year. But in 2017, Easter returns to April.
  • So for the holiday year 2015/16, there will be ten bank holidays.  Conversely, in 2016/2017, there will only be six bank holidays. In that holiday year, therefore, some employers will need to allow two extra days’ leave to ensure that employees get eight, rather than six, public holidays. If that doesn’t happen, five-day-week employees will not be getting their statutory minimum entitlement of 28 days’ annual leave.

So what to do? Well, you could simply top up employee leave as we’ve described. Or you could change your holiday year to January to December. Or you could even look to make some contractual changes to provide for 28 days’ leave inclusive of public holidays. Be mindful though that changing employees’ contracts is a delicate process. It will need to be planned and managed very carefully; something we can help you do.

Anything else? You’ll no doubt be aware that April is traditionally the time for changes to employment law. The most headline-grabbing of these is the new right for qualifying parents to take shared parental leave. Parents of babies expected on or after 5 April 2015 will be able to share up to 50 weeks off work, something which the government hopes will kick-start a feeling of empowerment among fathers to spend more time with their children.

It is estimated that 285,000 working couples each year will be eligible for the new shared leave arrangements. They’ll need to comply with some fairly complicated notice arrangements, which include giving their employers at least eight weeks’ notice of the pattern of leave they plan to take.

Acas’ guide to Shared Parental Leave is a good place to start to get a handle on what the new rights mean. You can access it here: Acas is encouraging early discussions between employers and employees about the various options that are available so that proper plans can be put in place

We can help you prepare a shared parental leave policy, and update your staff handbooks to cover this important new right for employees.  Plus we can help you with other family-friendly provisions coming into force now too, including surrogate parents’ eligibility for leave, and wider rights for adoptive and other parents.

For more information or advice on any of these issues please, contact one of our solicitors in the Employment team here.

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