Spotlight on: Work life balance

Understand your rights & your employers obligations when it comes to achieving work life balance. Including shared paternity leave.

Unfortunately, some employers still get it wrong when it comes to key aspects of the work-life balance, such as maternity and shared parental leave.

One common mistake is believing that a parent returning to work after the first 26 weeks of maternity leave (called ‘ordinary maternity leave’) is entitled to continue their job, but taking the extra 26 weeks (called ‘additional maternity leave’) means they lose all rights. This is not the case. In both scenarios, parents are entitled to return to the same job, and receive any employment benefit improvements that have been introduced during their time away, such as pay rises.

Shared parental leave and flexible working are two other areas that tend to cause disputes between employees and their employer.

Some employers have been slow to grasp the new rules for shared parental leave that were introduced in 2015. Parents now have the right to share up to one year of leave between them.

With flexible working, you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks including any maternity leave taken. Attitudes towards the work-life balance have changed greatly over the last twenty years, but sometimes parents come up against challenges in the quest to balance the demands of family life and careers. 

If you think your employer is having an unfairly negative impact on your work-life balance, contact us and we can help. For example, if they are mishandling your request for maternity or shared parental leave, or if you experience any unfair treatment after your return to work. 

SA Law’s employment specialists will identify the employment rights that apply to your situation, and suggest the most appropriate course of action. We can even represent you if you wish to be supported in your claim. Rest assured that all conversations between us will be kept confidential.

How we help you

  • The employee-employer relationship can be quite sensitive, which is why we always attempt to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Our aim is to help you feel secure in your job, and comfortable in your place of work.
  • In the worst-case scenario, we have an exceptional track record at winning tribunal claims, and can represent you throughout the process.
  • The laws relating to fathers taking parental leave and shared parental leave are relatively new. If required, we can suggest ways of changing your employer’s understanding and attitude towards this new statutory employment right too. 

It’s good to bear in mind...

  • Your request for flexible working can take many forms. For example, you can ask for part-time employment, staggered hours, home working or job sharing. However, bear in mind that flexible working isn’t a statutory employment right, so your employer doesn’t have to agree to it.
  • If your employer agrees to shared parental leave, it can typically take around 14 weeks to implement the new arrangement.
  • if you’re struggling to return to work after taking your full maternity leave entitlement, you have the right to ask for parental leave, or you can use some of your annual holiday entitlement.

Download our Family Friendly Rights 'Key Facts' document here.

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