If you're a CSP rep then it's a good idea to get familiar with the various legal entitlements that exist for parents, parents-to-be and carers, as well as extra rights for those physios who are covered by Agenda for Change and any that are provided by other non-NHS employers
Make sure your member gets what they are due
Make sure you know what rights your member has, including:
- basic legal rights and
- entitlements in any collective agreement or in their contract of employment
Where they are covered by NHS terms, check:
- that at least minimum Agenda for Change terms (see Section 15) and employer-level provisions are being applied; and
- whether there is a local agreement or policy with better terms than under AfC
Where they are not covered by NHS terms, check whether:
- there is a relevant collective agreement or employer policy in place in the organisation; and/or
- there are any terms in the member’s contract/staff handbook (and get them to do so)
- Ensure your member is clear what rights they have and how to access them in their workplace
- Check the employer is fairly applying any terms that are beyond those laid down by law, even if those terms are not written down but are based on custom and practice
- Check that if your member does not fit the traditional ‘mother’/’father’ profile, they are not missing out on any statutory or contractual rights, particularly paternity rights or parental leave
- Ensure your member knows what financial help they might get to help with childcare. Also check whether the employer operates a scheme to help.
Negotiating for a family-friendly workplace
Many employees enjoy terms for parents, parents-to-be and carers that are better than the legal minimum entitlements because their union has negotiated an agreement with their employer with better terms (as in Agenda for Change).
Use this section to help you review the provision for your members in this area and negotiate for improvements. Remember:
- Most statutory maternity, paternity and adoption provision does not come out of the employer’s pocket but from the state.
- If the CSP has recognition at your workplace, you are entitled to certain information to help you in negotiations. You could ask for information such as ‘what proportion of men take paternity leave and shared parental leave?’ and ‘how long do they tend to take?’
- You could survey your members to find out what improved terms would help them most.
- The Labour Research Department has collated examples of collective agreements that give better than statutory terms in the area of parental rights.
What improvements could you win?
Here are some areas of improved parental leave and pay that have been negotiated with employers which you could try to get at your workplace.
Maternity pay and leave
You could try to negotiate terms better than the legal minimum such as:
- full pay for a period of maternity leave
- leave and pay for those with less than 26 weeks’ service
Many unions have negotiated better than statutory terms in these areas.
The statutory entitlement to leave and pay for ‘primary adopters’ is essentially the same as for those giving birth, and so many unionised workplaces with better-than-statutory maternity terms have made equivalent improvements for adopters.
Paternity pay and leave
You could try to negotiate some of the improvements on statutory rights achieved in other unionised workplaces, including:
- more than the statutory two weeks’ maternity support leave
- some leave to be on full pay
- no or reduced service requirement
Areas to negotiate over include:
- providing pay for some of the leave (LRD provides examples of where this has been negotiated)
- more flexibility as to how it can be taken, such as in single days
- no or reduced service requirement
- a broader definition of who can take the leave (eg surrogate parents, grandparents, same- sex partners etc without the need for a parental responsibility order)
Ensure there is a clear provision for employees to return to exactly the same job
Shared parental leave and pay
The low level of statutory pay under the shared parental leave scheme is a major disadvantage to eligible partners and as a result take-up has been low.
A number of unions have negotiated better pay than this statutory level, with a number of examples where it matches contractual maternity pay.
Other areas to consider for negotiated improvements
- Paid time off for partners to attend ante-natal appointments.
- Ensure the employer provides full pay for keeping in touch days.
- Negotiate an element of paid time off for fertility treatment, where there are no statutory rights. In any case, your employer should treat your medical appointments for IVF treatment like any other medical appointment.
- Ask your employer to specify that paid sick leave or compassionate leave is available for those suffering miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy.
- Negotiate for some time off to be paid in the case of parental leave and family emergency.
- Negotiate full pay for parental bereavement.
- Push for a full right to flexible working on return from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave, rather than just a right to request it.