New laws providing additional support to parents and carers receive Royal Assent
Package includes increased protection in redundancy scenarios and additional neonatal rights.
On 25 May 2023 the UK government announced that three Bills had completed their passage through Parliament:
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act which will allow eligible employed parents whose new-born is taken into neonatal care to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave in addition to existing rights such as maternity and paternity leave;
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act will extend existing redundancy protections for employees on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave to also cover pregnancy and a period of time after the parent has returned to work; and
The Carer’s Leave Act will create a new statutory unpaid leave entitlement for employees caring for a dependant with long-term care needs.
All three will require secondary legislation to bring them into effect. At this moment the delivery of these new instruments is tabled to happen ‘in due course’ and it seems likely delivery of the new protections and entitlements will not happen before April 2025.
It is not yet known for how much longer the redundancy protections will be extended, but based on past government announcements following consultation on this matter it appears likely this will extend to six months upon return from leave. The ‘protection’ takes the form of a right for the parent returning to work to a suitable alternative role where they are facing redundancy and to take priority for such roles over colleagues who are also facing redundancy. This protection will also apply to an employee who has recently suffered a miscarriage.
The additional redundancy measures follow 2018 research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission that showed one in nine mothers were either dismissed, made compulsorily redundant or faced such poor treatment they felt they had to leave their job. One in five mothers said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working at work.
This led charities to call for even more support for parents and carers, urging the government to provide greater protections against cases of discrimination in the workplace. In tandem, the government has for serval years sought ways to try and encourage those with care responsibilities back to work and to stay in work, which it is hoped this package of measures will help to achieve.
This new package of legislation is a significant step in the journey towards a fairer and more inclusive workplace for carers and parents, with the new rights and protections aiming to create an environment where parents and carers can balance work with personal responsibilities.
In the time between now and the expected implementation of these measures from 2024 onwards, it is crucial employers start making their own adjustments and preparations. This will include developing familiarity with these new rights and protections and incorporating them into/ creating new policies.
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