ElaineAaron, partner oflegal firm Eversheds· “Theonly new, ground-breaking part is the rights for fathers to work reduced hoursuntil the end of maternity leave. There will be an administrative andlogistical strain for employers if fathers and mothers decide to work reducedhours after the maternity period ends.” Employerstot up leave costsAlarm bellsare ringing over the cost of implementing the Government’s wide-rangingproposals to improve the rights of working parents.Accordingto the Green Paper, it will cost employers £1.9m a week for cover if one infive working fathers reduces their hours by 25 per cent, although no price tagis given if all parents choose to work part time indefinitely. The CBIsays it is opposed to the right of employees to return to work on a part-timebasis, citing lack of flexibility. Also, thechanges will cost employers £40m for eight weeks extra statutory leave, plus£18m for each additional week of cover for paid leave and £9m for eachadditional week of cover for unpaid maternity leave.Thetwo-week paternity leave proposal will cost employees £18m plus £10m for each 1per cent of men who opt to take up their partners’ unpaid maternity leaveallowance. JohnAdsett, head of project development of Basildon Thurrock General HospitalsTrust, said, “If the figures are correct, this is not acceptable to employers.”For thechemicals sector, Garry Bothe, HR manager of Bayer, said, “From a cost point ofview it is not financially viable to opt to reduce your hours if you are afemale director or manager.”TheGovernment argues its Green Paper proposals could save employers up to £30m inrecruitment and retention costs overall, if only 10 per cent per more mothersreturn to work. Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers was adamant thatemployers would have to bite the bullet, saying “Retaining the status quo isnot an option – things have got to change”. Related posts:No related photos. FeedbackMikeEmmott, employeerelations adviser at the CIPD· “Entitlementto paternity leave is a welcome move in the light of consistent evidence thatfamily-friendly policies and flexible working practices benefit both employersand employees. Benefits include increases through lower absence, turnover andincreased loyalty.” JohnAdsett, head ofproject development at Basildon Thurrock General’s Hospital Trust· “TheNHS isn’t really ready for introducing two weeks’ paid paternity leave at themoment but if it comes in as a statutory right, we’ll have no choice. Theoption for giving parents the rights to work reduced hours will only work ifthey take reduced pay.” Should firms bear the brunt?Thematernity pay proposals include anincrease in paid leave for mothers from 18 weeks to 26 weeks. Unpaid maternityleave could increase to six months, and there could also be an increase in theflat rate of maternity, from £60.20 to a possible £100.Bothparents could also equally share any increase on existing unpaid maternityleave. It hassparked a debate over whether employers should bear the costs of extendedmaternity pay. David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy forEngineering Employers’ Federation, said, “The Government has two options: toincrease the statutory maternity pay of £60 which is primarily a cost to beborne by the state, or pay the same amount but for a longer period of time. “About 93per cent of the statutory maternity pay is reimbursed, but this is not a costthat employers should have to bear. If we are acting as a agent of the state,then we should get full reimbursement of what we pay out.” Don Ward, chief executive for theConstruction Industry Board · “ThisGreen Paper could be very helpful in construction’s campaign to bring morewomen into the industry. It will give us a level playing field with otherindustries and make us more competitive for good employees.” Full round-up of the Government’s Work and Parents Green Paper released last weekOn 12 Dec 2000 in Personnel Today JoannaFoster, chairwomanof the Work-Life Forum at the Industrial Society· “StephenByers has got the balance of work-life exactly right. By offering men paidpaternity leave, the Government is legitimising the role of the father.” DavidYeandle, deputydirector of employment policy for Engineering Employers’ Federation· “Theoption of giving both parents the right to work reduced hours after maternityleave raises enormous problems for employers. The idea of giving mothers andfathers a statutory right to return to work on a part-time basis is an area ofconcern as we believe this will have a detrimental effect on businessefficiency and competitiveness.” www.dti.gov.uk/er/review.htm Price tagEmployercosts according to the Green Paper:· £8m or £200 per employee one-offimplementation cost of proposals· £5m for each additional £10 a week statutorymaternity pay· £18m for each additional week of coverneeded for maternity leave · £9m For each additional week of coverfor unpaid maternity leave· £18m paternity leave· £1.9m for each week of cover if one infive working fathers reduces their hours by 25 per cent HelenFroud, director ofcorporate services at Worcestershire County Council· “Theincrease in the flat rate of maternity pay may cause some turbulence, but it’snot really a huge amount. If you’re on a reasonable salary, it won’t make muchdifference.” Previous Article Next Article £100 perweek paternity pay-outFatherscould be given two weeks’ paid paternity leave at the same new rate as mothers.It isbelieved they will be paid about £100 a week during their paternity leave. If theGreen Paper becomes law next year, fathers will also have the right to workreduced hours for up to a year after the birth, if they return to work early. Significantly,they will also be able to work reduced hours for as long as they like once thematernity period ends.HelenFroud, director of corporate services at Worcestershire County Council, echoedthe views of many organisations when she said, “Men have been the poorerrelation in parenthood so it is about time things changed for the good.Business will just have to get on with it.”Many largecorporations appear unperturbed by the proposals. David Glynn, HR director ofCoca-Cola, claimed it already has a similar paternity leave structure and doesnot think that extending it would cost the company a significant amount. Althoughcertain sectors with a high number of men in the workforce feared theimplications. Don Ward, chief executive of the Construction Industry Board,said, “Construction employers are probably not ready for two weeks’ paidmaternity leave, but they will just have to adapt.”Public-sectorHR directors were concerned by the effects of paternity leave on staffinglevels. Lew Swift, head of HR at Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery,said, “This is already an industry heavily hit by maternity leave – if men aregiven equal rights as well, the NHS could be in trouble.” Comments are closed.