On 06 June 2016, the Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements (Publication) Bill 2017-19 was introduced to the House of Commons...

On 06 June 2016, the Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements (Publication) Bill 2017-19 was introduced to the House of Commons. This is a Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire. The Bill was printed on 13 June 2018 ahead of its second reading on 15 June. However, because of the Parliamentary ‘objections’ protocol, the second reading has been postponed until 23 November 2018.

Despite the delay, employers do need to keep an eye out for this or any Government initiative that may come as a result of it:

What’s it all about?

The Bill, if made into legislation, will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 which applies in Great Britain. After the sections in the 1996 Act that give rise to child-related leave and pay (maternity, adoption etc), a section will be inserted to require employers with more than 250 employee to publish details of the leave, pay and benefits policies that are above the statutory provisions. This is for the following leave and pay arrangements:

  • Maternity
  • Paternity
  • Adoption
  • Parental
  • Shared Parental and
  • Parental Bereavement

Further, the employer will have to include details of any qualifying conditions that may apply to these occupational entitlements.

The publication would need to be made within 2 months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent then annually within 2 months of a ‘snapshot’ date, to be set by Regulations. Plus, there would be additional reporting if the employer made a ‘material change’ to their policies.

Essentially, the employer will be required to publish their occupational parental leave policies on their own Website and a Government Website.

Why?

Ms Swinson, architect of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay Regime in the Coalition Government, has indicated that increased transparency of an organisation’s occupational policies is good in tackling child-related absence discrimination. She said that annual publication (like Gender Pay Gap Reporting):

‘forces employers to have a transparent conversation, and include what men as well as women might consider for their careers at the stage where they have a family or a child’

Employers look out

Do good child-related occupational policies translate into the good work / life balances that working parents really need? Well, in addition to the above, employers will have to also publish information about any discretionary leave, pay or benefits provided in connection with parenting a child under the age of 18, including flexible working.

Also, HMRC look out – the Bill tasks them with the compliance and penalty regime for non-publication.

Transparency is a good thing to avoid any discrimination as a result of bring a child into the household (or the bereavement of a child, the subject of the new statutory payment afforded by the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill 2017-19). However, I can’t help thinking that this will not be a popular obligation placed on employers – and I can’t imagine that HMRC will have time for enforcing it anyway. I wonder if Parliamentary time and money would be better spent encouraging employers to do this voluntarily and / or encouraging the elimination of discriminatory practices and recognising work-life balances.

Please do keep and eye-out for any progress of this legislation

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