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Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay, Long Covid and Menopause – 18 June 2021

At our Conference last week, we discussed Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave and PayLong Covid and Menopause.  We have highlighted some important updates on these issues.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

The second reading of this Bill took place on 15 June 2021 and the new Minister for Economy, Paul Frew MLA, stated that he hoped that this new right could be in force by April 2022, before the current mandate for the Assembly ends.  The next stage of the Bill is to proceed to the Committee stage.

There was a lengthy discussion in the Assembly on whether the rights should be levelled up and extended beyond the measures currently in place in GB. However, this was considered against the benefit of being able to quickly pass a ‘ready-made’ Bill that mirrors the GB provisions. The Minister indicated that the latter was his preference i.e. passing a Bill broadly in line with the GB employment legislation.

If the Bill is not passed by April 2022, the Minster stated that a Bill would then include a transitional provision power with the intention to extend its provisions, so that recently bereaved parents falling outside the scope of subsequent legislation due to the date on which their child died, were included. With the indicative implementation date of April 2022, he envisaged that a transitional provision would encompass those working parents who may tragically experience a child bereavement in the year preceding that anticipated introduction date.

We will keep Members updated on this issue. A Link to the Minister’s announcement is also available here.

  1. Long Covid

On 14 June 2021, Robin Swann, Minister for Health, announced new services for the treatment and assessment of post-Covid-19 syndrome, also known as ‘Long Covid’. See here

This new assessment process could mean that more employees will be diagnosed with Long Covid and report that diagnosis in the workplace.

In turn, this could also mean that employees will be able to demonstrate that they meet the legal definition of disabled under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which is having:

‘a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ adverse effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.’

Employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace so as to overcome any substantial disadvantage/s disabled persons have that are caused by their condition.

ACAS has produced a guide: Long Covid

For any Businesses with employees suspected of having Long Covid we recommend that they:

  • Consult with the employee about their condition
  • Obtain relevant medical evidence
  • Consider if risk assessment is required
  • Consider what reasonable adjustments can be made to facilitate the employee staying at work and/or performing in their role

Promoting Equality in Employment for Women Affected by Menopause

Following on from their new ‘Guidance to Vaccination issues in the Workplace’, the Labour Relations Agency has produced a further new resource for employers “New guidance to managing menopause in workplace.’ The guide was developed in partnership with the Equality Commission and Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; it seems no employer representative body was consulted on the content.

It consists of 10 pages containing sections on:

  • Understanding the menopause
  • Menopause in the workplace
  • Why should employers consider menopause in their workplaces?
  • Health and safety considerations
  • Equality considerations
  • Employer checklist
  • Tribunal decisions
  • Good practice examples
  • Further information on menopause

It can be accessed here