A 2-Month-Old Male Infant Is Brought To The Emergency Room Statutory Leave and UK Business – Paternity Leave Changes – 3rd April 2011

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Statutory Leave and UK Business – Paternity Leave Changes – 3rd April 2011

Directors and managers of UK businesses are well aware of the difficulties in dealing with UK legal requirements to allow their employees to take statutory leave in certain circumstances. For example, women are entitled to maternity/adoption leave; persons with more than one year of service are entitled to 52 weeks of leave when giving birth or (as for male employees) adopting a child. Of course, after this period, the employees concerned are effectively entitled to return to their original jobs (or suitable alternative jobs in not less favorable conditions), which must be preserved in case they return.

Businesses must also accept the requirement to allow parents to take up to 13 weeks of parental leave (albeit unpaid leave) for each child under the age of five (18 weeks for disabled children). This can be initiated with 21 days’ notice to the employer, although employers can defer this for up to 6 months for good business reasons, but ultimately must still be allowed if requested.

In addition to these rights, fathers (or adopters) can also take up to two weeks of paternity leave. UK legislation is now strengthening this right. In 2011, eligible individuals may apply for up to 26 weeks of additional paternity leave in addition to the entitlement of 2 weeks. The right has not been widely tracked, and it is unlikely that most UK businesses would consider the additional burden this legislation might place on them.

This means that when you add the contractual statutory minimum annual leave entitlement of 5.6 weeks per annum (i.e. 28 days for workers working a 5-day week), and the entitlement to reasonable unpaid leave to deal with emergencies involving dependents, small businesses It is possible to lose the service of a key employee — even a male employee — for a substantial portion of a year in a row based solely on their statutory leave entitlements.

Furthermore, the 2010 CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey showed that UK workers took an average of 6.4 days off due to sickness each year. Of course, this is an average and anyone could have had much longer than that.

So it’s entirely possible that in the year their child is born, the business could easily lose a key employee, male or female, who has been there for most of the year. So, in an SMB where there may be one or a few virtually irreplaceable key employees who may single-handedly support an important area of ​​the business, what can be done to minimize the catastrophic absences these employees could cause? Here are some suggested actions:

Businesses must conduct a careful risk assessment to determine which positions within their organization are critical and whose absence for an extended period would be detrimental to the business.

For each key position, it is necessary to develop a strategy to fill the position in case individuals leave for a long time.

The strategy will vary depending on the relevant role and the nature of the business, but may involve the following:

A sort of. Carefully describe and define key jobs and carefully categorize all duties and responsibilities so that it is easier for a successor to step in and assume the role.

b. Have a suitably trained “substitute” (such as a Junior or Apprentice) able to stand up and take on all or most of the primary duties. Regardless, it’s a good plan.

c. Contract with agencies to provide people with the right qualifications and skills when needed. The agency may be required to maintain a list of potentially suitable candidates in its database.

d. Maintain personal relationships with temporary contractors who can step in at short notice.Likewise, there may be a retired ex-employee with experience on the job who can come back for a while if necessary

e. Outsourcing work to another organization until the employee returns

F. Agree that key employees take on a certain amount of paid work during their absence.

g. There are plans to reassign position responsibilities to others in the current workforce.

The main reason for the current relatively low rate of paternity leave use is the low rate of statutory paternity leave pay and the fact that statutory parental leave is unpaid. These are major disincentives for employees, and while it may be admirable for businesses to consider policies to enhance these rights as an employee benefit, any policy that does so is likely to exacerbate the problem by stimulating uptake.

New paternity leave arrangements introduced in 2011, while undoubtedly another potential burden on small businesses, should remind directors and managers of the need to plan more carefully for the loss of key staff. Addressing these issues before they become a problem can significantly reduce further impact to the business.

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