[Jersey] Family-Friendly Work Rights Will Not Be Delayed

22 JUN 2020

The minister in charge of the legislation has said there will be no September delay to laws providing improved family-friendly employment rights for parents, despite a request from Scrutiny, Jersey Evening Post reports.

The States Assembly approved the new rights in October. They allow both parents up to a year of leave from work following the birth of a child, six weeks of the leave to be paid for by employers. The law also introduces workplace rights to breastfeed and instructs employers to take reasonable steps to offer breastfeeding facilities.

The changes are due to come into effect on June 28 but Scrutiny raised concerns that the COVID-19 crisis would prevent employers from being ready in time. This, reportedly, despite the minister pledging to support businesses by bearing some of the costs with a temporary subsidy scheme.

Though sympathetic to the calls from the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel, Judy Martin - the Social Security Minister - said she would not delay the proposition because many businesses were given time to prepare and an implementation delay would mean having to re-submit her proposition.

Ms Martin also said that she had been contacted by worried parents-to-be with concerns that a delay could affect them.

The minister said, "It really isn’t possible to delay it until September. I understand what is being said in the letter, but businesses have had a long time to sort things out.

"It was voted through by the Assembly back in October and it can’t be left any longer to be enacted.

"It will come in on 22 June and if I was to leave it any longer and delay it until September, it would mean me withdrawing it and bringing it back to the Assembly having to relodge it.

"I’ve had concerned mothers-to-be getting in touch with me about it and I am not willing to delay it until September."

Deputy Kirsten Morel - Scrutiny panel chairman - in his mid-June letter requesting the delay said, "The panel acknowledges that the extensions to employment rights will improve the position for parents in the workplace.

"However, given the current situation with Covid-19, where employers have been severely affected, we would recommend delaying the implementation of the changes until September.

"We acknowledge that a careful balance needs to be struck between fostering a family-friendly culture in Jersey and supporting our business community.

"In that regard, the panel believes that introducing these changes in the present climate will put additional and unnecessary pressure on businesses in the short term, even with your plans for an interim subsidy scheme."

Source: Jersey Evening Post