New rights for parents and carers: Summary for employers
Three new Acts introducing additional rights for parents and carers in certain circumstances, have recently gained Royal Assent. These will come into force 'in due course', once the Government sets out secondary legislation concerning details of the Acts and relevant commencement dates.
The Government states that "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."
What are the new rights?
In summary the new Acts are:
- The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023
This allows eligible working parents an additional 12 weeks of paid leave in the event their new-born baby is admitted to neonatal care. Importantly, this applies to both parents and is in addition to their current entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave.
- The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
This extends the existing protections currently offered to employees who are on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave who are entitled to be offered any suitable alternative vacancies before being made redundant and in priority to other employees not on such leave. This new Act extends those protections to cover a protected period of pregnancy and a period after the parent returns to work.
- Carer's Leave Act 2023
This creates a new entitlement for five days of flexible unpaid leave per year for employees who care for a dependant with long-term care needs. This does not have to be taken as a block of five days and can be taken in individual or half days.
What can employers do to prepare for the implementation of these new rights?
There are many changes on the horizon for employees with dependants and employers will need to start thinking how to prepare for these changes. Once more details on the Acts are provided, employers should consider:
- Updating policies and handbooks to include these new entitlements;
- Making sure employees are aware of their entitlements;
- Consider the new rights when carrying out processes such as redundancy; and
- Considering how the new rights interact with any existing policies (e.g., if an employer already operates an enhanced carer's leave scheme how will this new statutory right be accounted for).
If you have any questions on the topics discussed in this alert, please contact Paul Reeves, Leanne Raven or your usual Stephenson Harwood contact.