During Employment

Key Information

It is important to have good family friendly policies in place for Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Shared Parental Leave, Parental Leave and Parental Bereavement Leave. Your employees need to know what will happen when they need to take Parental Leave at some point. If you don’t offer enhanced financial packages for these things, then that is ok, but you will still need to provide Statutory pay and leave as laid out by the government.

We do have template policies for all these which you can find in the template sections at the bottom of this page.

 

Maternity Leave

All women are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, from the first day that they join you. By law, they must take 2 weeks minimum maternity leave after the birth of the baby, however this is 4 weeks if they do a manual job. Not all new mothers receive Statutory or Company Maternity Pay (If your organisation offers an enhanced package). This depends on a number of factors such as the time they have worked for you and their earnings. Please read the policy documents in the template section or refer to ACAS’s guide to maternity pay and leave for full information about this.

Women are entitled to take reasonable paid leave of for antenatal appointments, which includes the travel time to and from the appointment, as well as the appointment itself.
 
Women continue to accrue annual leave even whilst on maternity leave. They cannot receive pay for this time, however, can add it to the beginning or end of their maternity leave. By law you must allow them to carry over any annual leave accrual into the next calendar year, if their maternity leave crosses over two annual leave years.

Women can also work up to 10 Keeping in Touch (KIT) Days during their maternity leave, without ending their maternity leave. You may offer to “top up” their statutory sick pay to ensure that they are paid a full day’s work, however if the employee is still within their full company maternity pay phase, then as they cannot get paid more than they usually would for a days work, they would therefore not receive an extra payment. 

Detailed below are also template risk assessments which you should do when your employee tells you they are pregnant so that you can remove any risks to the mother or baby. This may mean redeploying the employee to another role or putting in adjustments to help them. This could also mean that the employee would need to be put on paid suspension leave during this period if you are unable to remove/reduce those risks. There is a second risk assessment which should be done around 3 months after the first one, so that as the pregnancy progresses, you can ensure that you continue to remove/reduce those risks.

If the mother notifies you that she is still breastfeeding her baby when she returns from maternity leave, you will need to conduct a further risk assessment and put in place anything that will allow the mother to either breastfeed her baby or express milk, which includes a private room to do this, and safe storage of the milk in a fridge (where possible). The last section of the Maternity leave policy details the breastfeeding guidance.

 

Paternity Leave

If an employee wants to take paternity leave, then they are entitled to either 1 week or 2 weeks. If they take two weeks, then they must be consecutive weeks.  They may receive Statutory Paternity Pay depending on their length of service and earnings level. You may also provide an enhanced package of company paternity pay for this period.

Employees are entitled to have leave for 2 antenatal/adoption appointments of a maximum of 6.5 hours each, however there is no right for this time to be paid, unless you offer enhanced benefits in this regard.

The employee will need to complete a Paternity Leave request form (in the template section below) to book their time off. You can read the ACAS guide to Paternity Leave by clicking HERE for the full rules.

 

Adoption Leave

An employee may inform you that they plan to adopt a child. Adoption leave is available in a similar way to how maternity pay and leave is for the primary adopter of the child, and the secondary adopter can take paternity leave.The notification rules are different for adoption leave, in that rather than providing proof of pregnancy (MATB1), the employee will need to supply you with a matching certificate when they have been matched with a child. The primary adopter is entitled to 52 weeks leave. Whether this is paid or not depends on their length of service and earnings. You can read the full information from ACAS website HERE

The Primary Adopter is entitled to time off to attend adoption appointments. This is a maximum of 5 appointments of 6.5 hours length per appointment. The Secondary adopter falls under the same rules as paternity leave.

Annual leave continues to accrue in the same way as it does for maternity pay for the primary adopter.

Please see below templates and forms which you can adopt for your Adoption Pay processes

 

Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave is when both parents split the maternity/adoption pay and leave period between them. You can read more on ACAS website by clicking HERE

The evidence requirements for SPL are similar to Maternity leave in that the start of the leave will be governed by the maternity leave (for at least 2 weeks), however upon the other person taking over the leave and commencing their part of the shared parental leave, there are other notifications/forms that need to be completed.

The template policy below details this, and the forms and letters can be used as part of your shared parental leave process.

 

Ordinary Parental Leave

An employee may request to take Ordinary Parental Leave to care for their child when they are ill or need to cover childcare arrangements, to go to school sports day etc.

Employees must have worked for you for 1 year before putting in an application for Ordinary Parental Leave. They are entitled to up to 18 weeks per child from birth to their 18th birthday. This is a maximum of 4 weeks per year and must be taken in blocks of weeks. However, if your employee’s child is disabled, they can take this in blocks of days. There is no requirement for this time off to be paid.

You can read more about Ordinary Parental Leave on the ACAS website by clicking HERE, or reading the template policy below.

 

Parental Bereavement Leave

If an employee’s child dies (under the age of 18), then the parents are entitled to 2 weeks leave from work. If a baby is stillborn from the 24th week of pregnancy, then the parents are also entitled to this leave at the end of their maternity or paternity leave. This time off is paid as Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave, however you may wish to pay full pay for this period. You can read more about Parental Bereavement Leave on the ACAS website by clicking HERE, or reading the template policy below.

 

Flexible Working

All employees have the right to request flexible working as long as they have worked for you for at least 26 weeks. This could be a change to their working hours or working pattern. Employees can only make one flexible working application per year, even if they have withdrawn a previous request in that period.

You have three months to make a decision on their application for flexible working and you should meet with your employee to discuss the practicalities of how this would work. If for business reasons you are unable to approve this change, then you must write to the employee to tell them this and the grounds on which you have refused.

Good business reasons for refusing flexible working might fall under one of the below categories

  • it would harm your performance in the job - or the performance of your colleagues
  • it would cost the business money
  • it would reduce quality or standards
  • your employer would struggle to meet customer demand
  • your employer would have trouble hiring extra staff to cover your work
  • your employer would struggle to reorganise work among your colleagues
  • there isn’t enough work to do at the times you want to work
  • your employer is planning changes to the business structure and your request wouldn’t fit with the changes

You can read the Flexible working policy below or click HERE to see the rules on ACAS website.

 

Performance Reviews/ Appraisals

Having an appraisal or performance review process will help you to get the best out of your employees. We recommend that you meet your employees at least once per year to check on their wellbeing, set performance targets and discuss any other matters that the employee wishes to talk to you about. We would recommend a mid year review to ensure the employee’s wellbeing is checked and that any objectives you have set for your employee can be assessed, and relevant training and support provided where needed.

Please see below a template policy, guidance and a template appraisal form which you could use.

 

Absence Management (Capability Procedure)

During the course of employment, your employee may become sick for a long period of time and be unable to attend work as frequently as they should. You may also have an employee who takes lots of odd days off sick which has become disruptive to your organisation.

In these instances, you may need to enforce to an absence management process which is always done in conjunction with the Capability process. Due to the laws surrounding disability discrimination, we would always advise that you speak to the HR Advisor, Simone Smith before implementing an absence management process with your employee, particularly when if the employee hasn’t improved their absence rate, there is a good likelihood that they will be dismissed. In order to ensure you do this in a lawful way, and avoid the pitfalls of an Employment Tribunal, you should always seek advice before embarking on this course of action.

Below are template policies and letters you can use to guide you.

 

Performance Management (Capability Procedure)

You may have an employee whose performance has dropped since they passed their probation period. Typically, if their performance is not good enough during probation, and you have offered them enough support and training, but they still haven’t met the required standard, then you are able to end their probation period, and therefore end their employment with you. However, if this occurs outside of the probation period, then the process is quite lengthy. You MUST ensure that you always follow a thorough and fair process when managing Capability or Disciplinary processes.

You should normally start a performance management process with your employee, setting them targets to achieve within a certain time frame. You should also ensure they have had the relevant training and support to assist them, and also discussed with them whether there is a personal reason for their dip in performance, that you might be able to help with.

The length of time for a performance review will typically depend on the job. Where it is a cyclical job where the employee only tackles a specific piece of work once a month, it would be prudent to set the performance review for 2-3 months to give them a real chance to learn. However, where the role is daily and they do the same work day in day out, then a month would be more than sufficient to expect an improvement.

There are many steps to this, and process is so important, so you must stick to the relevant steps, from implementing the performance management plan, holding meetings including the right to employee representation, and a chance to appeal any decision that is made. This is crucial.

Below are template policies and letters you can use to guide you. 

We would recommend that you speak to the HR Advisor, Simone Smith when you are considering implementing a performance management process, especially as the likely outcome could lead to actions such as demotion, a move to part time hours, offering them a suitable alternative role, voluntary severance or dismissal.

 

Employee Misconduct

Managing Misconduct issues can be tricky to navigate, so you should always speak to the HR advisor or seek advice from ACAS or an employment lawyer. You should always follow a fair and reasonable process to ensure that if the employee is dismissed and seeks to go to an Employment Tribunal, you will have done everything correctly. 

Depending on the type of misconduct that has occured, will depend how you handle it. For smaller isolated incidents, a simple talk with the employee may be enough to rectify their behaviour. You should always keep detailed notes of any conversations like this, for use if the situation becomes bigger. You will need to rely on this for evidence. 

If the matter cannot be resolved with an informal chat, then you can move to the Disciplinary procedure. There are many steps to this, and process is so important, so you must stick to the relevant steps, from conducting an investigation, the main hearing, an outcome meeting, and a chance to appeal. This is crucial.

Below are template policies and letters you can use, including flow charts for each step of the process to guide you. Please ensure you a familiar with these before embarking on a disciplinary process with your employee.

 

Grievances

As with the Disciplinary process, conducting a fair grievance process is just as important, particularly when employees do not agree with the outcome. 

If an employee comes to tell you that they are upset by something, this isn’t always a grievance. A simple discussion with the employee and the person who upset them will be enough. However, if the employee isn’t satisfied and decides to raise a full grievance, then you should follow the process laid out in the Policy template and flow charts below. There are lots of template letters for you to use as well.

We recommend that before embarking down this course of action, that you speak to the HR Advisor, Simone Smith first so she can offer you guidance and support.

 

Template Policies, Guidance, Flow-Charts and Letters you can download, adapt and use:

Maternity

Paternity

Adoption

Shared Parental Leave

Ordinary Parental Leave

Parental Bereavement Leave

Flexible Working

Appraisals

Absence Management including Capability Process

Capability Process (Performance)

Disciplinary – Misconduct issues

Grievances

 

Disclaimer: These templates are provided to help you and are based on good practice detailed by the Cipd and ACAS which are the professional bodies in relation to Employment Law matters. We use these at the DBF however we accept no liability for your use or amendment of these templates

 

 

 

 

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