Government launches Consultation on Modern Workplaces

Today sees the Coalition Government's launch of a consultation that could introduce some new concepts. The main aim of the "Consultation on Modern Workplaces" is to make employment practices in Britain more flexible and family friendly.

The Consultation, which runs from today until 8 August 2011, intends to meet the Government's stated aim of creating "a society where work and family complement each other" and where "employees no longer have to choose between a rewarding career and fulfilling family life".  The key proposed changes are:

Flexible Parental Leave

  • The Government proposes that women are entitled to 18 weeks' paid maternity leave, which would be taken in one continuous block around the birth of their child.
  • An additional 30 weeks (to be called parental leave) will be available to either parent and can be taken in blocks by either parent (albeit not at the same time).
  • The remaining four weeks (making a total of 52 weeks) will be paid parental leave, which can be taken by each parent in the first year of the child's life (at the same time if necessary).
  • The earliest that these changes will come into effect is 2015 and the Government has said that the changes are subject to the caveat that they must make economic sense.

Flexible Working

  • Extending the right to request flexible working to all workers who have been with their employer for 26 weeks (not just those who are carers or who have children).
  • The Government will consider publishing a statutory Code of Practice for businesses and will propose that employers should be allowed to take into account employees' individual circumstances when considering conflicting requests.
  • There are no plans to alter the current eight business reasons for a business to turn down a request.

Equal Pay

  • In claims where Employment Tribunals have found that an employer has discriminated on grounds of gender in relation to pay, the Tribunal may order the employer to conduct a pay audit and publish their results.