Employers not prepared for flexible working changes

Employers
are not buying into the family-friendly attitude espoused by the current
government.

This
is the conclusion of a detailed survey of more than 1,100 employers and
advisers by Fox Williams law firm’s website Hrlaw.

Most
companies offer the bare minimum of work-life balance policies and the majority
do not expect that their employees will want to take up their full statutory
rights.

Many
are inadequately prepared to deal with the immediate impact of the changes in
maternity, paternity and flexible working rules in April 2003 and the possible
claims that may ensue.

The
results of Hr law’s Big Baby survey reveal:


Only 50 per cent of respondents to the survey provide any enhanced maternity
pay benefits 


Only 13 per cent provide enhanced paternity benefits – so most dads of babies
born on or after 6 April will only get the basic two-week entitlement to
statutory paternity pay


For parents who are adopting, only 25 per cent of employers provide enhanced
benefits


None of the respondents actively encourage part-time working for employees
returning from maternity leave


Only  25 per cent have a formal
published flexible working policy – leaving them more exposed to claims where
they reject requests by employees for flexible working


No male employees have to date applied for part-time or other flexible working
arrangements in any of the respondent organisations


75 per cent of respondents believe their pregnant employees will not wish to
take advantage of the maximum 52 weeks’ maternity leave entitlement where
available


63 per cent of respondents indicated that they didn’t find the new maternity
regime any easier to understand than the previous convoluted arrangements. This
is not encouraging news for the Government

Bettina
Bender, employment specialist at Fox Williams, said: "It may well take a
few high-profile tribunal cases on the new flexible and family-friendly working
arrangements to encourage a more pro-active approach on the part of employers.
It’s a good idea for employers to actively consider these issues and how they
plan to deal with them before the new rules kick in April."

By Ben Willmott

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