Parental Leave Reforms Mean More Red Tape
Plans to allow new fathers to take six months paternity leave from next year will mean more red tape for small businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned.
The Government has proposed that new fathers have a statutory right to take up to three months’ paid and three months’ unpaid leave. The move will allow mothers who return to work after six months to transfer their unused six months’ paternity leave to their partner. At present fathers are entitled to a maximum of a two weeks’ paid leave.
“Small firms will suffer if they have to cope with more administration,” said BCC director general, David Frost.
“We want a moratorium on new employment law so that employers can focus their attention on getting businesses and the economy out of recession and back to health.
“Regulation has already cost businesses £77 billion since 1998 – clearly they don’t need more confusing and expensive legal changes,” he added.
Under the proposals, parents would be required to self-certify by giving details of their eligibility to their employer. Employers would be able to carry out further checks of entitlement if necessary. The reforms are due to be introduced in April 2010, subject to consultation.
The Confederation of British Industry conceded that the move will allow parents to “tailor” childcare to their own situation, but warned that changes must not cause disruption for struggling employers.
However, the Government said the scheme has been designed to minimise the impact on businesses. It estimates that take-up of additional paternity leave will be less than six per cent and that just one in 137 small businesses will be affected.
“The number of businesses affected is expected to be small – less than one per cent of small firms – and we will work with business to make sure any changes are introduced in a way that minimises burdens and gives them predictability in the provision of leave,” said minister for employment relations, Pat McFadden.
Original Government plans to extend the total paid childcare period from nine months to a year are under review.