Two-thirds of employers do not yet meet the leave
requirements of the Employment Bill 2001, currently before Parliament, and will
need to make changes to their policies and practices.
This was one of the key findings of research by IRS
Employment Review into family-friendly policies covered by the act.
The survey of also reveals that although there is no
statutory right to paternity leave until the Employment Bill 2001 becomes law,
eight out of 10 employers generally allow fathers time off when their babies
are born, and nearly half offer new dads at least one week’s leave.
However, only one fifth of organisations operate parental
leave schemes for employees with young children that go beyond the basic legal
The survey of 12 HR managers also finds that despite fears
about the burdens on business, in reality parental leave is a little-used
benefit because it is unpaid and most people – especially strapped-for-cash
working parents – simply cannot afford to take unpaid leave.
Janet Egan, who carried out the research for IRS Employment
Review said: "It’s good news for fathers; paternity leave is has been
endorsed as far as employers are concerned. And this situation will improve
with the impending legislation. HR managers anticipate a frenzy of activity in
the next 12 months.
"These are turbulent times for the UK’s workforce.
Employers are steps ahead of the Government in certain areas of work-life
balance policies, but lacking in others."
More than 90 per cent of employers introduce family-friendly
arrangements to comply with legal provisions, 78 per cent do so because it
helps maintain effective equality policies and 69 per cent, to enhance the
image of the organisation.
Two thirds of employers provide family-friendly policies to
help recruit and retain skilled workers and nearly half to reduce absenteeism.
By Ben Willmott