Flexible working featured in the Queen’s speech on May 9th 2012. Under the Children and Families Bill, parental leave, speedier adoptions and a shake-up of support for children with special educational needs were announced.
Under the plans,
- Mothers could share their maternity leave with fathers.
- Parents will be given access to flexible leave to allowing greater sharing of caring responsibilities.
- Families will get more choice on education for pupils with special educational needs, as well as benefiting from a simplifid SEN statement process, which will extend to young people up to the age of 25 in further education.
- On family law, there will be a six month deadline to complete care cases and if families break up, the law will be strengthened to make sure children continue to have a relationship with both parents if it’s in their best interests.
Many have welcomed the flexible working plans. Iain McMath, managing director of Sodexo Motivation Solutions, the leading provider of childcare vouchers in the UK, said:
“In these tough economic times, we absolutely welcome any support for struggling working families. Most companies are not currently offering pay rises so flexible working hours can be a great way of financially supporting employees and enabling them to spend time with their families. We have all seen that the cost of childcare can have a crippling effect on family finance. Today’s announcement will go some way to providing families with added options over parental leave which will enable them to manage their childcare needs in a more economically viable way.”
However, some fear that the new flexible working plans could be cumbersome to administer. Leon Deakin, an employment associate at leading law firm Thomas Eggar, commented:
“The government’s plans could be extremely difficult to operate. Moving to a system where parents can take ‘chunks’ of leave a few weeks at a time and/or take the time off together will be extremely cumbersome and is unlikely to sit neatly with providing a consistent and reliable service.
“More importantly, to avoid abuse or human error employers will need to keep a close eye on things to verify what dates individuals become eligible for their rights, as well as what leave has been taken when and by whom.
“Indeed the employer will not just need to know what leave their own employee has actually taken but also what leave and when the other individual in the relationship has benefitted from. In most cases that individual will be employed elsewhere, which complicates matters further as the employer will either need to contact the other employer directly or rely on information being relayed to them. If both parents have the same employer this may reduce the administration element but what happens if they choose to take time off together? This could be disastrous for small businesses.”
For more information on this bill, please see source article on BBC News Education and Family