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New parental leave regulation time for employers to get flexible

By Richard Morris, UK CEO at global workspace provider Regus

April 5th 2015 ushers in significant new legislation governing the working rights of parents - Shared Parental Leave.  This new employment right means that women can curtail their maternity leave to enable their partner to share it. Eligible fathers and partners will be able to request more leave from work in the first year following their childs birth, with the option to share 50 weeks' leave and 37 weeks' pay. Similar rules will apply for adoptive parents.

Undoubtedly, the new legislation will impact working patterns. Some mothers will return to work earlier because their childs father or their partner is taking leave in their place. Shared parental leave can also be taken in discontinuous blocks, so businesses face the prospect of staff members dropping in and out of the business for a period of time.

Every business is different, and decision-makers will need to work out the most appropriate option for each parental leave request. But certainly, flexible working should be a part of the discussion. 
Todays network of professional workspaces is enabling both employee and employer alike to be more adaptable. For example, rather than travelling to the office immediately after parental leave, employers may offer new parents the option to work from a professional workspace closer to home.  Indeed, the availability of a nearby professional workspace might, in some cases, provide an alternative to taking shared parental leave. The ability to avoid the commute and to work productively just a short distance from home may free-up the necessary time required to be supportive at home.

Flexible workspaces provide just that greater flexibility , taking conversations away from the black and white of a yes/no conversation and enabling employers to demonstrate a commitment to staff welfare.  For employers, such environments provide the necessary levels of professionalism that arent always apparent when working from home.  These are purpose-built working environments, equipped with reliable technology and designed for productivity.  For employees, being presented with options and having the business support their decision-making process can only help to create a feeling of being valued with obvious implications in terms of staff retention and development.

Workplace regulation continues to evolve.  Rather than seeing each new ruling as burdensome, the most forward-thinking businesses are using these changes as an opportunity to develop new ways of working that impact positively on staff and the business as a whole. 


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