26/02/2003

Minister announces new rights for working parents

NIO Employment Minister Jane Kennedy has announced a campaign to raise awareness of new legislation aimed at helping parents of young children to balance their parenting and employment responsibilities.

Speaking at today's launch of the campaign, Ms Kennedy said: "These are some of the most significant new employment rights in recent years. They constitute a balanced package, reflecting the needs of parents wishing to continue in paid employment and also of employers, who need to ensure that the necessary work gets done.

"Employers with good work practices are better able to attract and retain those in whom they have invested. It is vital that they understand their obligations and responsibilities and ensure that their payroll systems and procedures can facilitate the new rights, which take full effect on 6th April 2003.

"Employees are likely to be more content in the knowledge that they are still able to fulfil their parenting responsibilities and consequently will contribute more in the workplace, helping businesses to retain a competitive edge."

The new employment rights include:
  • improved maternity rights, in particular the right to six months’ paid and a further six months’ unpaid maternity leave
  • two weeks paid paternity leave for working fathers
  • adoption leave and pay, equal to the statutory maternity and paternity leave and pay, for parents adopting a child who is newly placed with them
  • reimbursement through refund of National Insurance Contributions of maternity, paternity and adoption payments made by employers, with a full 100% recoverable by small employers as well as a further compensation payment
  • the legal right for parents of children under the age of six or with disabled children up to the age of 18 years to apply to their employers for flexible working arrangements.
Further information, including preliminary guidance on the new rights, is available from the Department for Employment and Learning website at www.delni.gov.uk

Individuals and organisations may also obtain advice on the new rights from the Labour Relations Agency by calling 028 9032 1442.

The package of new rights for working parents in the UK was developed following a series of public consultations during 2001 and 2002.

(SP)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

21 January 2020
NIFRS Renews Smoke Alarm Plea
Home owners are being reminded of the need to have a working smoke alarm following two fatal house fires in December. The NIFRS emphasised the need to prioritise fire safety in the home after two accidental blazes occured at premises without working smoke alarms.
13 October 2003
Conference focuses on employment law
A half-day conference focusing on recent developments in employment law could help reduce the number of small and medium sized companies (SME’s) in the north-west that fall foul of employment legislation.
13 September 2002
Committee backtracks over 'workers' entitlements
The Committee for Employment and Learning has revealed that they may shelve plans to widen the numbers of people eligible to claim parental employment rights. Last session, the Committee recommended that the scope of the Bill be widened in the definition of people eligible for such benefits by moving from the term “employee” to “worker”.
08 June 2005
Queen’s to debate future of Human Rights Commissions
The future of Human Rights Commissions in the UK and Ireland will be examined at Queen's University Belfast this week. The Human Rights Centre at the Queen's School of Law, in co-operation with the Faculty of Law, University of Bristol, will hold a half-day conference in Belfast on Friday on the role of both Commissions.
04 September 2001
Provisional Bill of Rights is unveiled
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has published its provisional proposals for what should be contained in a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.