Heidi Gibaut, Executive Director at Jersey’s leading employment relations specialists Law At Work, said:
“This new law will be welcomed by those wishing to start a family, however, the pressure it will put on small businesses in the Island cannot be ignored. We work with businesses across sectors of varying sizes, and while many of the larger companies have existing maternity policies meaning they will not be affected by this new law, it is the small to medium sized companies which may now face difficulties, especially with the introduction of race discrimination just 12 months prior.
“Among employers’ concerns, the main issues are around the cost to their business and this certainly poses a risk to many. Employers will have to fund the costs associated with recruiting cover for the 18 week period of leave plus handover time, the two weeks pay in addition to holiday pay and the option to offer flexible working hours isn’t as straightforward for many. We will be working with our clients to ensure that they are prepared for the new laws when they come in next year in particular ensuring that policies and procedure are up to date and what the implications of not conforming to the new law will mean to business.
“Furthermore, I can see this new law encouraging some employers to overlook female staff because of the risk that they will require maternity leave and in order to avoid the potential cost to their businesses.”