Two potential changes to employment law have been condemned by a Solihull employment lawyer as ‘pointless’.
One, thought likely to be announced in the next few weeks, is a plan to give parents more enhanced rights to share maternity/paternity leave so that fathers will be able to take time off and claim state benefits throughout much of the first year after the birth of a child.
Currently a father is entitled to 26 weeks additional paternity leave that can only be taken from 20 weeks after birth and provided the mother has returned to work.
The result would be that from 2015 the mother, if she is the main earner, could go back to work just a fortnight after the birth, but Daryll Thomas, head of employment law at Solihull and Birmingham solicitors Williamson & Soden, says that the new regime will make little difference.
“In April 2011, the government introduced extra paternity leave for fathers, giving them the right to up to six months of extra leave,” said Mr Thomas. “This meant that this extra time off would be paid at the same rate as statutory maternity pay.
“Part of the reason for a low take up of this offer was a concern on the part of fathers that they would lose out in their career progression.
“Now the government is planning to go even further, why should the take-up be any greater?”
He also criticised the plans announced at the recent Conservative party conference for employees to be issued after April 2013 with shares in return for sacrificing many of their employment rights including claims for redundancy pay and unfair dismissal.
In return the proposals mean that employees could be given between £2,000 and £50,000 of shares that could grow free of capital gains tax.
Mr Thomas said: “The question arises as to whether employees would be wise to give up employment rights for just £2,000 of shares. If the employee is fired three months later, regret could quickly set in.
“No redundancy, no notice and perhaps even a fall in the value of investment does not seem like a great deal.
“In addition, there could be no claim on the government’s DTI redundancy fund so it could be a double whammy for employees if the company failed.”