Work and Families Bill puts pressure on employers’ rights

Employers are facing a legal maze of parental legislation following government proposals in the Work and Families Bill, according to one employment law expert.

Richard Smith, employment services director at Croner, said the law could be shifting too far in favour of family needs, bringing into question a basic principle of employment law that supports the employer’s need for the “work to be done”.

“[Employers] believe the law currently goes far enough to adequately allow working parents time off to meet family needs,” he said.

“Employers’ rights need to be balanced with those of the employee and further provisions for parents would leave many businesses struggling to cope. The pendulum is swinging too far and the law must continue to support employers.”

He warned that some organisations are currently discriminating against employees who may yet become parents, which could lead to an increase in sex discrimination claims owing to the new legislation.

“On the whole, employers are trying to accommodate childcare needs as best as they can. Indeed our clients often call us with concerns over how they can best meet a mother or father’s needs, with the least impact on their business,” he said.

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