workingparentsEmployment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson, has said that the introduction of shared parental leave will help UK organisations embrace a change in working culture.

Ms Swinson said that many working practices and job structures had not changed since the 1950s and were based on “stereotypes stuck in the past”.

Speaking at an ACAS and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) briefing in London last week, Swinson said more businesses must start to “change traditional working cultures”.

She said:

I believe flexible working and shared parental leave will be economically beneficial to employers.

“With these measures workers are more likely to be happy in work; you’ll see reduced sickness absence, improvement in mental health issues and will result in more motivated and healthy workers.”

Also speaking at the event was Anne Sharp, Chief Executive of ACAS, who commented:

“Flexible working is about modernising the workforce.”

Sharp added that these proposals present “great opportunities” for business to get the best out of their workforce and will give them the “ability to recruit and retain the most talented employees”.

She stated:

“It used to be seen as a perk and for years companies used to say ‘it will work there but not in my company’, but we’ve seen it can work.

“Offering flexible working can also help plug the large skills gap we have in the UK.”

Under plans currently out to public consultation, the Government intends to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees from April 2014 and introduce shared parental leave from April 2015.

The parental leave system will allow new parents to choose how they share a year’s worth of leave after the birth of their child, and provide greater parity for adoptive and surrogate parents.