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- Don't wait for 2014 to introduce a parental leave policy, employment lawyer warns Jersey employers
Don't wait for 2014 to introduce a parental leave policy, employment lawyer warns Jersey employers
A recent report into gender equality in
Jersey says the States should bring forward legislation on
maternity and flexible working as a matter of priority.
In doing so, The Jersey Community
Relations Trust says, the States should recognise that childcare is
a shared parental responsibility and the rights and obligations of
both parents to care for their children needs to be included in
In response, Jersey's social security
minister, Senator Francis Le Gresley, has pledged to create a
maternity law before he leaves office - by 2014.
Currently, there is no legal provision
for maternity leave but new mothers can be signed off work for two
weeks. Senator Le Gresley's proposal is to give mothers inJerseytwo
weeks leave on full pay and up to 16 additional weeks unpaid leave
depending on how long they have been in their job.
Employment lawyer at Collas Crill,
Colette Hunt, says: "2014 is still a long way off and even if these
proposals are introduced, they are significantly less than all
other jurisdictions that have maternity laws.
"While we continue to wait for Jersey's
draft law, any Jersey employers who do not have a parental
leave policy already in place must still consider implementing one
before the draft law appears and is enacted.
"By doing more for pregnant employees
than they are legally required to, this would help to show
that they are reasonable employers, should a dispute between
employer and employee arise.
"If these proposals were implemented
then parents in Jersey would be on a par with those in Guernsey,
where February 2012 saw States approved maternity leave that will
come into force in January 2014.
"However, even then, parents in the Channel Islands
would still have far fewer entitlements than if they were in the UK
and much of Europe. The main reason for this is that larger
jurisdictions have had some form of such rights in place for many
years and these have been extended over time."
So what is causing the hold up? Ms Hunt explained:
"Because the proposed statutory provisions cannot be regarded as
more than the minimum, it is considered futile to introduce rights
that will only need extending as soon as the law has been enacted.
This is what has stalled the process.
"Despite there being no law in place yet, Island
employers of all sizes would be wise to consider having at least a
policy on maternity leave in place now. Many large companies
already have policies covering maternity and paternity, so small
and medium sized organisations will find it hardest to adapt to the
introduction of these statutory rights.
"In practice, they already have to deal with female
employees falling pregnant on a case-by-case basis, which creates
the potential for a dispute to arise."
For tips on how to create a parental leave policy for
the first time, read this article by Colette Hunt.