Fathers are allowed to transfer unused maternity leave into paternity leave. This is a major move away from the ‘paltry’ fortnight of paternity leave which Mr Johnson claims serves to ‘patronise women and marginalise men’. He also accused the current system of being ‘Edwardian’.
Henceforth, parents of a new baby will be able to share the leave with fathers being allotted up to six months of this time.
The current rules for maternity leave are that the employer must pay 90% of the worker’s normal salary for the first six weeks and, thereafter, 33 weeks at £125 a week which they can claim back in full under the Statutory Maternity Leave scheme. Mothers can remain off work for a whole year if they choose. Fathers are currently paid for two weeks.
The new rules will permit mothers and fathers to split their leave down into packets of even just a few weeks. Therefore, the situation of ‘two weeks on, two weeks off’ as parents take it in turns to look after the new baby is perfectly plausible.
Although headaches will be created for the owners of small businesses, nothing comes for free and, as the British Chamber of Commerce sees it, what might start off as a bonus for workers will end up costing jobs.
For example, the following situations will occur:
- The parents work for different companies – are the two companies supposed to liaise and work around the leave arrangements of each other’s employees?
- Some parents will try it on and endeavour to claim leave that they are not entitled to because the other parent has used it up.
- Parents will split up during this time. Will the companies be expected to know if an ‘estranged father’ is babysitting or just having a day off? What about if he has booked this time in advance? What if the mother claims that she has custody therefore she should have all the maternity leave?
- Maternity pay will get paid by mistake to both parties. How will it be recovered?
- Payroll will become a nightmare, employers will struggle with the extended absence of key workers (usually male) and many small businesses will be forced to close as a result.
Illegal as it may be, the only way in which many employers will be able to protect themselves will be by excluding male workers of a certain age in favour of those who, while biologically capable of fathering, are less likely to be associated with women of childbearing capability. No doubt companies will be forced to hide behind the new legislation concerning age discrimination.
Any company not attempting such skulduggery is likely to face massive disruption as employees come and go at irregular and uncontrollable intervals. Without reliable and sufficient staffing levels, clients will be let down and businesses will suffer. If businesses suffer then so too will employment levels.
Adam Marshall from the British Chamber of Commerce plans to lobby against these proposals, saying that it “… makes it almost impossible for some businesses to plan ahead”
Many small businesses will be hit hard by this latest piece of governmental nonsense which has been introduced by people who have no concept of what hardship their decisions cause. While they rub shoulders with civil servants, other government officials and bosses of big companies for whom this does not present a problem, those at the other end of the spectrum will have no chance of making this work.
The net result – more job losses and discrimination against young workers.