You can agree your own parental leave scheme with your employees, although this must meet certain minimum requirements of workplace parental leave schemes.
The agreement can be:
- A collective agreement with a recognised trade union - find out how to work effectively with trade unions.
- A workforce agreement - ie an agreement with all or some of your employees - but only where there is no collective agreement in place.
- By agreement with an individual employee - this could either be set out in the contract of employment or be a discretionary agreement made with an employee on a case-by-case basis. You should exercise caution in using discretion to avoid complaints of discrimination.
Deciding who you are going to make a workforce agreement with
You must first decide who you want to make the agreement with - will it be the whole workforce or a group within it?
If it is a group, they must:
- share a workplace
- do related work
- belong to a particular department or unit within their employer's business
Electing representatives for workforce agreement
You must then arrange to elect employee representatives to negotiate the agreement with you.
To do this, you should:
- decide on the number of representatives to be elected
- ensure candidates are members of the workforce on the date of the election or, in the case of a group, a member of the group to whom the agreement is to apply
- allow each employee a vote for each representative to be elected to represent them
- ensure as far as is reasonably practicable that they are elected by secret ballot
- ensure that the votes are counted fairly and accurately
Ensuring that a workforce agreement is valid
For the agreement to be valid, you must:
- put the agreement in writing
- show it to all employees to whom it will apply, together with a guide explaining what it means
- have it signed off by all representatives or by most of the workforce where 20 or fewer employees are employed when it comes into effect
In addition, the agreement cannot last for more than five years.