When details of the new Shared Parental Leave (SPL) legislation were first announced, a number of organisations were struck with feelings of panic. How would they manage this potential additional administrative burden and resulting disruption? Could they be certain of ensuring a non-discriminatory approach, at the same time as safeguarding employee satisfaction levels and, ultimately, compliance?
Elsewhere, some industry experts commented that, in truth, requests for SPL would in fact be very low, therefore there was perhaps not that much to worry about.
Our take on it, at the time of the media frenzy, was to adopt an advice-led approach. In fact we partnered with legal practice DWF to author an authoritative comment on the subject, for leading HR title Personnel Today. We aimed to empower readers with a little more practical knowledge about SPL, so they could start taking the steps they needed to protect both their organisations and their employees’ rights, regardless of how popular SPL would subsequently prove to be.
Fast forward to October 2015 and we have a little more understanding as to the impact the SPL legislation has started to have on UK businesses. Research by Pay and Benefits magazine has revealed that one in five companies have received SPL requests since the arrangements came into effect in April.
In truth, this figure is quite small, with only 2% reporting more than 10 requests in that time. However, in the P&B article, a spokesperson quite rightly pointed out that positive SPL experiences, even in small numbers, will encourage others to follow suit. Perhaps this reiterates our point that an organisation’s approach to SPL should be carefully considered, as the strategy adopted will speak volumes about the employer.
At the time of our Personnel Today article going to print, we said that ‘the time to act is now’. This means that, at the present time, the industry is presented with a newer level of urgency. SPL requests might not be flooding in just yet, but this might not be the case for long.
We only have to look at Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement at the Conservative Party conference yesterday*, when we learned that new government plans will allow grandparents time to take paid leave for childcare. The decision comes following research findings that “…two million grandparents have either given up a job, reduced their hours or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren.” The SPL extension will therefore enable both parents and grandparents to share statutory SPL pay between them.
There’s lots going on in the HR and payroll landscape once again, and no doubt further change will take place as time unfolds. Organisations with a poor or disorganised approach to SPL can no longer afford to stall when it comes to addressing their strategy.
*Information taken from People Management: http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2015/10/06/chancellor-to-extend-shared-parental-leave-to-working-grandparents.aspx
Read the full article Shared Parental Leave: The Technological Implications