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HR specialists must adapt to new parental leave reforms

HR specialists must adapt to new parental leave reforms

One of the biggest tasks facing HR professionals is staying up to date on the UK's latest employment law reforms.

The government is always looking for new ways to improve conditions for workers without placing businesses under undue strain.

One issue that has been put under the spotlight in recent years is the allocation of leave for employees who have just had a baby.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced today (November 29th) that a new system will take effect in April 2015, which will allow men and women to share the responsibility of looking after their child for the first 12 months. 

At the moment, men are severely restricted when it comes to paternity leave, with women expected to stay at home and care for their baby. This, Mr Clegg stated, is an outdated approach. 

"Women deserve the right to pursue their goals and not feel they have to choose between having a successful career or having a baby," he commented. 

"They should be supported by their employers, rather than being made to feel less employable or under pressure to take unchallenging jobs."

With men and women set to benefit from shared parental leave, HR departments will need to familiarise themselves with the new regulations and possibly introduce new policies to ensure they are compliant with the law. 

Mr Clegg said flexibility is key in the modern workplace and many businesses that have introduced measures such as remote working and less rigid working hours have already reported an upturn in productivity.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) has welcomed the reforms, although the organisation's employment relations adviser Mike Emmott warned that HR departments must do much more if they are to attract the very best talent.

He also suggested there may be one or two teething problems once the parental changes are enforced and the CIPD will keep a close eye on the situation – offering guidance on best practice as time progresses.