The Government's new 'family friendly' policies are likely to hit businesses hard, according to an employment expert at a Birmingham law firm
The publication of the Government's Work and Families Bill at the end of last year was welcomed by employees but many businesses have been left wondering whether the proposed changes will be a help or a hindrance.
Andrew Davidson, of Bevan Brittan, said some of the proposed changes would be welcomed by employers.
"The clarification that employers can have 'reasonable contact' with employees on maternity leave is a positive change. If the Government were to provide some guidance on what constitutes 'reasonable' that would be even more welcome," he said.
"Similarly, extending the notice required from one to two months for employees who want to return early from maternity leave is another welcome change."
He said the proposal which was likely to cause most difficulties for employers was the introduction of up to six months unpaid paternity leave. "While this new right will not cost employers directly, it is likely to cause difficulties in the workplace.
"Employers will have to find temporary cover for staff on paternity leave with all the disruption that causes.
"Although it is estimated that only between 9,000 and 16,000 fathers will take up their entitlement, it remains to be seen how popular this leave will prove.
Another proposal which could cause difficulties for smaller employers is the introduction of the right for carers to request flexible working. "The right to request flexible working has been limited to parents with children aged under six to date."