Book News: May 19th, 2009

This report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission sets out proposals for meeting the changing needs of families, workers and employers in the 21st century. It is aimed at setting a new agenda to secure change.

The report focuses on reforms to parental leave and the extension of flexible working. It concludes that a radical change in parental leave policies is needed and that a new approach would give Britain a world-class policy of parental leave by 2020.

This would enable families to exercise real choice in the first year of their child’s life, and to have the option of paid parental leave up to the age of five.

There are proposals for the introduction of gender-neutral parental leave, with equal access for both parents to paid parental leave. There is also a need for greater flexibility in how paternity and parental leave can be taken including paternity, maternity and parental leave that can be taken as days, weeks or longer blocks of time.

The Commission’s view on flexibility is that it should be extended to all employees throughout working life. This would reduce the risk that certain groups – such as parents of young children – pay a career penalty for working flexibly. The report proposes that there should be legislation to introduce a formal right to request a return to full-time work after a previous change in working hours. There is also a proposal to end the requirement that an employee can request flexible work only after 26 weeks in the job.

The report is available from the Commission.