Although we like to think it is a thing of the past, clients still tell me that they are scared to employ young females in case they get pregnant. They don’t want the upheaval or the costs associated with maternity leave such as finding and training temporary staff or loosing key skills and knowledge.
However, from April, the law changes and employers could face these issues when employing either female or male staff.
From April parents will be able to share the maternity leave with fathers allowed up to six months off (providing mum has gone back to work). This time off is paid at Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) rates, currently £124.88 per week.
Although legislation provides SPP, it is expected that in business and organisations where enhanced maternity pay is available, by not offering the enhancement to fathers, employers may be in breach of discrimination laws around gender. In these cases, employers may have to amend their policies to provide for enhanced paternity pay.
So, unlike parental leave which is unpaid and therefore not particularly attractive, it is anticipated that there will be greater take up of extended paternity leave. This may particularly be the case if the mother earns more money than the father, or the father works for an organisation which pays enhance paternity pay and the mother does not.
So, is this a change for the better or the worse? Well, I guess that depends on your point of view!!