Employers Concerned Over New Work and Families Act

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Most employers expect difficulty coping with next week's introduction of new rights for workers with family responsibilities according to a KPMG and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey.

Despite these concerns about improved maternity and paternity leave provision, attitudes towards extending the right to request flexible working are more positive, the survey suggests. Only 4% of employers surveyed think that the new right for carers to request flexible working will cause them significant difficulties.

The new legislation, in the Work and Families Act 2006, will extend maternity and adoption pay from six to nine months and extend the right to request flexible working to carers of adults from 6 April 2007.

Although most employers in the survey consider themselves to be prepared for the implementation of the WFA, 10% think that any of the provisions of the Act will be beneficial to their organisations.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of employers surveyed think that the paternity leave provisions of the WFA 2006 will cause them either some (48%) or significant (16%) difficulties while 57% think the maternity and adoption pay provisions will cause difficulties.

Mike Emmott, CIPD Adviser, Employee Relations, said: "It is clear from the survey that there is scepticism about some of the WFA provisions, especially those relating to paternity leave, and concern about the difficulties that might arise in implementing them. It is possible that such reservations simply reflect the caution with which employers tend to embrace any new regulations. But the Government needs to reassure employers about the administration of the new provisions.

"The new rights for fathers won't be introduced until 2008 at the earliest, but it is important for the Government to use the intervening time to ensure that the provisions will help workers with families without making life more difficult for those who employ them. Until they know how the new arrangements will work, employers will be understandably worried about the likely complexity of, in effect, transferring statutory leave and pay from mothers to fathers."

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