Three new family friendly Acts received Royal Assent in May, giving further employment rights to parents and carers. In relation to the new Acts, the Government has stated “when in force, these new laws will help to increase workforce participation, protect vulnerable workers, and level the playing field by ensuring unscrupulous businesses don’t have a competitive advantage and delivering on our priority to grow the economy.”
The New legislation
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 allows eligible employed parents up to 12 weeks’ paid leave when their new-born baby is admitted to neonatal care for 7 or more continuous days. This is in addition to other entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave. Although the right to leave will be a day one right, the right to pay has a 26 weeks’ service requirement and the employee must have been earning at least the lower earnings limit for a period of 8 weeks prior to taking the leave.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 allows the extension of existing redundancy protections currently offered to employees on maternity/adoption or shared parental leave, to also cover pregnancy and a period of time after a new parent has returned to work. The time period after the return to work is currently unknown. During the extended protected period, before making an employee who has the protection redundant, employers will be required to offer them a suitable alternative vacancy, where one exists, in priority over other employees without the relevant protection.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 will introduce a new entitlement to one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who are providing or arranging care for someone with a long-term care need. This will also be a day one right. Employees will be able to take their leave flexibly for planned and unforeseen caring commitments. The leave can be used for caring for a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, someone living in the same household or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.
The new statutory provisions are intended to be the minimum than an employer must provide to its employees and employers can provide greater entitlements if they wish.
From a practical perspective, in advance of the relevant secondary legislation being implemented, employers may wish to start thinking about procedures for the new entitlements. The Government has stated that it will lay down secondary legislation in due course to implement the new entitlements.
If you have any questions relating to the new legislation or want us to review your current policies and procedure in line with the above changes, please contact a member of the Employment Team.