On 1 September 2015 significant new employment rights will come into force in Jersey aimed at supporting families and gender equality.

For the first time women will have a right to maternity leave of between 8 and 18 weeks including two weeks paid leave. Fathers, adopters and civil partners will be entitled to take up to two weeks unpaid parental leave. As an added layer of protection unfair dismissal rights are extended so that dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy, maternity, parental leave or breast feeding is automatically unfair.

All employees with caring responsibilities can ask for flexible working including shorter hours or different working times. A request can be made once every 12 months. The employer can refuse if the change will have a negative impact on the employer’s business or involve additional costs.

The Discrimination Law is extended to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, maternity, breast feeding and gender reassignment. As with race discrimination the law applies in almost all public arenas including employment, provision of goods and services, training and letting of property. The maximum compensation award remains at £10,000.

Employers need to ensure that they have updated their policies, procedures and handbooks. Given that the impact of the sex discrimination provisions is much wider than employment, businesses that supply goods and services should be aware of the new requirements and provide adequate information and training to their staff.