I'm writing this blog on December 1st, the day the new regime of Shared Parental Leave came into effect in the UK. Employment legislation now recognises that fathers and mothers can share responsibility for caring for a new baby. This is a period of 50 weeks, in addition to the 2 weeks of paternity leave, which means a father can potentially take a whole year off to look after a new baby whilst the mother goes back to work.
This is another sign that the old assumptions about flexible working are no longer valid. Since professional women are now quite likely to be earning more than their male partners, there are economic pressures for fathers to take a major share of the parental leave whilst the mothers return to their careers. Since July this year, UK legislation has also recognised that it’s not just parents who want to work flexibly. Now all employees have equal rights to request flexible working and employers cannot discriminate on gender or parental grounds when considering a request.
These changes mean that employers need to be more prepared than ever to manage flexible workers. However, there is mounting evidence that many companies have not planned for the new world of agile working. In particular, there are still many organisations that don’t allow people to work from home, or from any remote location, because they are unsure how to make it happen.
To provide guidance on remote working, the Telework Association is planning to update the Telework Handbook. This will give practical advice to companies and individuals wanting to set up remote working schemes and will contain up-to-date examples of how it can be done. The project is being funded through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter and can be found at http://kck.st/1FzFuu0.