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Firms fear problems over new family act

Most employers are expecting difficulties following the introduction of new rights for workers with family responsibilities, which came into force last week.

The Work and Families Act (WFA) extended maternity and adoption pay from six to nine months and the right to request flexible working to carers of adults.

Only one in 10 employers in a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development/KPMG (CIPD) survey said the WFA would be beneficial to their organisation and smaller companies expect to encounter the most difficulties.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of employers said the paternity leave provisions which are set to be introduced from 2008 will cause them some, or significant, difficulties as fathers will be entitled to take up to 26 weeks additional leave.

Mike Emmott, adviser, employee relations at the CIPD, said: "Most good employers recognise the importance of work-life balance but there is scepticism about some of the WFA provisions, especially those relating to paternity leave, and concern about the difficulties that might arise in implementing them."

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