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Family-friendly employment rights

12 February 2019

The Minister for Social Security has today lodged a draft law to extend family-friendly employment rights. The proposed amendments to the Employment Law would introduce the second stage of improvements to family friendly rights for employees, following a recommendation from the Employment Forum in December 2017:

• 52 weeks of parental leave for all parents, including adoptive and surrogate parents
• time off work to attend appointments for adoptive and surrogate parents
• breastfeeding rights, including breaks and workplace facilities
• paid leave, where necessary, on health and safety grounds for pregnant and breastfeeding women

The draft law equalises the rights to maternity, parental and adoption leave, by allowing all new parents 52 weeks of parental leave. Parents would be able to take the 52 weeks in up to four blocks, of no less than two weeks each, over a three year period. This would allow parents to take the leave to suit the needs of their family.

Six weeks of the 52-week leave period would be paid by the employer at the employee’s normal rate of pay.

The draft Law also introduces workplace rights to breastfeed. Employers would have to take reasonable steps to provide facilities at work for breastfeeding mothers to express and store milk, where an employee requests it. In small workplaces it may not be possible to provide dedicated facilities. The draft Law takes into account the cost, the resources available to the employer and the size of the business.

Social Security Minister, Deputy Judy Martin, said “This extension of employment rights is progressive and inclusive. Our proposed changes to the Law follow consultation with employers and employees, undertaken by the Employment Forum in 2017. We want to improve the situation for parents in the workplace, giving families more choice and flexibility to help meet their work and family responsibilities. The changes we are proposing will also encourage gender balance in childcare roles.

“The 2016 Jersey Lifestyle and Opinions Survey found that around two-thirds of men had not taken any parental leave at all and 92 percent of men said they would have liked to have taken more leave. We hope that by providing longer defined periods of leave for each parent, both parents will be able to take an equal part in parental responsibility and encourage a culture change in local workplaces.”

This second stage of improvements to family friendly rights was intended to follow a year after maternity leave was first extended to 26 weeks in September last year.  The new law would come into force in September 2019, giving businesses more time to prepare.

The extension of family friendly employment rights contributes to Ministers’ strategic priorities for the next four years, as outlined in the Common Strategic Policy 2018-2022. The proposals put children first, help to create a sustainable, vibrant economy and skilled local workforce for the future, while also reducing income inequality and improving the standard of living.

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