Recently enacted legislation brings positive changes for working parents and carers. Three new Acts, originating as Private Member’s Bills, aim to enhance the protection for pregnant mothers and new parents against redundancy, introduce neonatal care leave, and establish carer’s leave. While the Acts lay the groundwork, specific details will be clarified through upcoming regulations.
Better Protection for Mothers and New Parents:
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act extends safeguarding measures, presently limited to parents on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave. Under the new Act, mothers will enjoy protection from the moment they disclose their pregnancy to their employer, extending for a specified duration after parents return from certain statutory leaves. The exact length of this safeguarded period will be outlined in forthcoming regulations, anticipated to take effect no earlier than April 2024.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act establishes a new framework, albeit more intricate, for parents whose child requires neonatal care. Pending seven statutory instruments, this Act is expected to be implemented by April 2025. Once in force, parents will have a statutory right to neonatal care leave, commencing from the beginning of their employment. Regulations will determine the maximum duration of leave (likely up to 12 weeks) and eligibility criteria for neonatal care pay, which is expected to follow standard statutory pay rates.
- Carer’s Leave:
Enacted through the Carer’s Leave Act, employees gain an unpaid leave entitlement from day one to provide care or make care arrangements for a dependent with long-term care needs. This leave can be taken in increments of half-days or individual days, totalling up to one week per year of employment. “Dependent” encompasses individuals for whom the employee provides long-term care, distinct from emergency-dependent leave and parental leave. Implementation of regulations for the Carer’s Leave Act is expected to be straightforward, making it likely for the new rights to be effective by April 2024.
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