New duty to publish family friendly policies

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In October 2018 it was reported that the government is considering forcing employers to publish their parental leave and pay policies. How likely is this to happen and will you be affected?

Transparent policy

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed that it’s considering whether there should be a legal duty imposed on employers to openly publish their parental leave and pay policies. Apparently, there are three main reasons which sit behind this thinking.

A matter of choice

The first reason that’s been given is that the open publication of parental leave and pay policies would allow job applications to make informed decisions about whether they can combine a job role with caring for their family. The second is that employers could be encouraged to offer enhanced parental leave and pay terms through the publication of their policies.

Avoiding Discrimination.

Finally, and perhaps more importantly for the government, is that candidates who ask about parental leave and pay policies risk being discriminated against simply by posing the question. In other words, an employer will know that an applicant has childcare responsibilities if they ask about parental leave and could use this as grounds to reject them. This is something the government is keen to avoid and as gender pay gap reporting has achieved a 100% success rate, it feels transparency is the answer.

Need you worry?

A formal consultation is now planned. Once it has been closed a decision will be made on how to proceed. Assuming the publication of parental leave and pay policies gets the green light, its likely to have widespread support in parliament as all parties are keen to promote family friendly rights.

Big or Small

The government has indicated that any statutory publications duty would only apply to those employers with more than 250 employees. Employers with 250 or fewer employees would be exempt. However, unlike other statutory duties to publicly disclose information, this one could well be extended to employers of all sizes if it comes into force. That’s because, other than uploading a policy online, an employer wouldn’t have to do anything else such as finding and collating information.

Advice

In the interim, the government is encouraging employers to voluntarily publish their parental leave and pay policies. So far, ten larger companies have done so. Whilst you could follow their example, our advice is not to as you’ll create unnecessary work for yourself.

You could, however, provide job applicants with a copy of your parental leave policy and pay policy. Being this upfront shows that you don’t discriminate due to child care responsibilities.