Three laws enhancing the rights and safeguards for working parents and caregivers have been officially approved. Here’s a simple guide to what employers should understand and how they can prepare.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
The current law provides special help for those on maternity, shared parental, or adoption leave if their job might be discontinued. They are first in line to be offered any suitable new jobs before being let go. This means if you’re on maternity, shared parental, or adoption leave, you get first pick of any new job opportunities over others whose jobs might also be at risk.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act of 2023 extends these rules. It provides the same protection to pregnant individuals and those recently back from maternity or shared parental leave, giving them priority when new jobs open up. This updated rule will come into action on July 24, 2023.
Employers need to update their policies and educate their teams to make sure everyone understands and follows these new protections.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023
This law understands that parents with newborns in neonatal care are going through a stressful time. From April 2025, workers who qualify can take up to 12 weeks of neonatal care leave, and those who have worked continuously for at least 26 weeks can get paid for this leave.
The entitlement to 12 weeks’ neonatal care leave will be as follows:
• Starts before the end of a period of 28 days beginning with the day after the child’s birth; and
• It goes on without a break for at least a week starting the day after the care begins.
Employees will be able to take leave either when their child is receiving neonatal care or after that period; meaning that an employee could take their neonatal care leave after another form of parental leave.
Employers need to make sure their current rules meet or exceed these new standards. Employers who already have a policy that provides support for parents whose baby requires neonatal care should ensure that what is offered at least meets the requirements of the new legislation.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023
This new right recognises the dual responsibilities of those juggling child and elder care. It mandates a week’s unpaid leave each year for employees providing or arranging care for a dependant. The leave could be taken flexibly in a block of five days or in individual or half-days to suit the carer’s caring responsibilities.
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 person being cared for must have a long-term care need. This means they must have a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for three months or more, a disability as defined in the Equality Act 2010, or require care related to old age.
Employees will be required to self-certify their eligibility for carer’s leave. They will not need to provide evidence to their employer of how or for whom the leave is being used.
This Act is expected to come into force after April 2024, and we advise employers to implement clear written policies reflecting this entitlement and to offer training to all staff members.
No matter how long an employee has been in service, they’ll be safeguarded against any negative impact for taking carer’s leave, and any dismissal due to this leave will be seen as automatically unfair.
Employers should think about outlining this right in a written policy to help employees understand the support offered. They should also provide training for all staff to ensure they are aware of this new right and the protection it provides.
While the law grants only unpaid leave, employers have the option to pay employees during carer’s leave or even extend the leave period, given that one week might be a short duration for some.
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