Family-Friendly Employment Law Updates

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Family-Friendly Employment Law Updates
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Over the past few years, the Government has pledged significant improvements in family-friendly rights. This includes vowing to introduce new provisions such as carer’s leave and neonatal leave. Additionally, the government has pledged to enhance paternity leave and flexible working rights. The government have been actively working to provide enhanced protections for parents who might face redundancy. In the following article we will outline the latest developments and advancements in family-friendly employment law updates.

Flexible Working Employment Law Updates

On the 20th of July 2023, The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 received Royal Assent. The Act introduces several key changes in the right to request flexible working, a big step forward in enhancing flexible working rights for employees. The changes are as follows:

  1. Employees can now make two flexible working requests within any 12-month period. This doubles their chances to seek work arrangements that better suit their needs.
  2. The decision period for employers to respond to a flexible working request will be reduced to two months. This streamlines the process, providing quicker resolutions for employees.
  3. Employers will be mandated to engage in consultation with their employees before rejecting any flexible working request.
  4. The previous requirement for employees to outline how their employer could address the impacts of their flexible working request will be eliminated.

In addition to these changes, the Government is actively working on making the right to request flexible working available from the very first day of employment. This will be an update to the previous 26-week waiting period. This important modification will be implemented through regulations.

To allow employers enough time to prepare for the flexible working changes, the Government expects the new changes to take effect approximately one year from now. Meanwhile, ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service) is seeking input on an updated statutory code of practice that will manage flexible working requests. Stakeholders are encouraged to provide their feedback in response to the consultation by the 6th of September 2023. This collaborative effort will ensure that the process is well-informed and benefits both employees and employers.

Carer’s Leave Employment Law Updates

The Carer’s Leave Act was granted Royal Assent on 24 May 2023. This Act pushes the Government to establish regulations, enabling employees to take one week of unpaid leave annually to provide care or make arrangements for a dependent with a long-term care need. No qualifying period of employment is necessary to use this right.

A dependant includes an employee’s spouse, civil partner, child, parent, someone living in the same household (excluding lodgers, tenants, or employees), or anyone reasonably relying on them for care. A dependant will be considered to have a long-term care need if:

  • They have an illness or injury which requires care for more than three months.
  • The dependant is classified as disabled under the Equality Act 2010.
  • The dependant requires require care due to old age.

Employees who choose to take carer’s leave will receive protection against dismissal and any unfavourable treatment because of their leave. Additionally, they will have the option to bring an employment tribunal claim if their employer unreasonably delays their leave or tries to prevent them from taking it.

Specific details will be outlined in the forthcoming regulations. It is anticipated that the right to carer’s leave will not come into effect before April 2024.

Neonatal Care Leave Employment Law Updates

On 24 May 2023, the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act was granted Royal Assent. The new act provides support to parents whose babies require neonatal care. The Act mandates the Government to develop regulations that grant parents the right to take a minimum of one week’s leave when their baby needs neonatal care. However, the regulations are likely to extend this period for a longer duration. The leave period will be available to employees and will be accessible from the very first day of their employment.

For employees with 26 weeks of continuous employment, there may also be an entitlement to receive statutory neonatal care pay. This is subject to meeting the minimum earnings criteria that apply to other types of family leave.

While many specific details will be addressed in the forthcoming regulations, it is expected that these provisions will align with the rights and obligations of employees taking other types of family leave.

One important aspect of this Act is that employees who choose to take neonatal care leave will be protected from dismissal and any unfavourable treatment resulting from taking this leave.

The implementation of the new neonatal leave and pay entitlements is expected to take place in April 2025. It’s hoped the new act will provide much-needed support to parents during challenging times and reinforce their ability to care for their neonatal infants without fearing negative consequences in the workplace.

Redundancy Protections Employment Law Updates

On the 24th of May 2023, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act received Royal Assent. The Act provides an important step forward in safeguarding pregnant women and new parents from redundancy-related concerns.

Currently, women on maternity leave and parents on adoption and shared parental leave have the right to be offered any suitable available vacancy as a precautionary measure before facing redundancy. This can be in their employer’s organisation or with an associate employer.

With the new Act in place, the Secretary of State will be granted the authority to extend redundancy protections to pregnant women during their pregnancy and to new parents for a certain period after they return to work from maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave. As per the Government’s indication, this protection will extend for six months following their return to work.

While the Act has been given the green light, the implementation of the extended protections requires further regulations to be made. However, the Government, has not provided specific timescales. So far, they have stated that these regulations will be presented before Parliament “in due course.” This slower approach ensures that the process is carefully considered and thoughtfully carried out. It is hoped that in doing so the new act will prioritise the rights and well-being of pregnant women and new parents in the workplace.

Seeking Guidance and Support from Employment Solicitors

Employment law undergoes constant updates due to economic shifts, technological advancements, and tribunal case outcomes nationwide. As a result, navigating this legal landscape might seem daunting when seeking justice.

Reach out to our employment lawyers today or request a call back to discuss any areas of employment law.

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