Hethertons calls on employers to get up to date with parental leave and flexible working rights

One of York’s leading law firms, Hethertons, is offering advice to employers to help them with employees who are seeking parental leave and flexible work arrangements.

The assistance comes as a new report from the TUC shows that around 47 per cent of workers said they struggled to balance work with parenting, despite laws to make flexible working easier.

The organisation also revealed that its survey, which questioned more than 1,000 people with household incomes of £28,000 or less, found that 29 per cent of parents had  to use annual leave in the last year when their child was sick.

More than four in ten parents (42 per cent) said they felt penalised at work when they asked for flexibility at work.  Asking for family-friendly working patterns leads to them getting fewer hours, worse shifts and in some cases losing their jobs.

Against the backdrop of this research, Hethertons is encouraging firms to get to grips with parental leave and flexible working arrangements to ensure they don’t expose themselves to a tribunal claim.

David Scott, a Senior Associate in the Employment team at Hethertons, said: “From this research, it is clear that employees have concerns about their employers offering flexible time, with more than 42 per cent believing that they had been penalised for enquiring about different work arrangements.

“With this being the case, it is vital that employers are fully aware of the rights of their employees, as failing to meet current legislation could lead to an employee launching an employment tribunal claim.”

David said that not meeting the regulations surrounding flexible work could lead to claims based on penalising an employee because of their request to work flexibly, sex discrimination or equal pay.

Employers needed to be aware of the process for dealing with employee requests, as failing to follow the correct procedure or to meet the time limits imposed could also lead to action by an employee.

“When initially approached by an employee about a change to their hours or days of work many employers may suddenly start thinking about the impact on the wider business, but with the right approach, changes can be made that benefit the business and its workforce alike,” added David.

“Importantly, companies also need to recognise that their employees have certain rights in relation to the care of children, and must ensure that they don’t breach these rights. Failing to do so could leave a business in a difficult position.”

He added that a recent decision to make tribunal fees unlawful meant that employees could now access tribunals more easily.

“If we were to go back to the number of claims launched in 2013, before the fess were introduced, then we could see a 400 per cent rise in the number of claims being brought,” added David.

If you would like to know more about Hethertons range of employment services, please call 01904 528200