Neonatal leave, carer’s leave and enhanced protection from redundancy are the new rights that have been enacted. These private members bills were first set out in the 2019 Employment Bill.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 will allow for 12 weeks’ paid leave so that parents do not have to choose between caring for their new born baby and returning to the workplace. This will apply to parents of babies who are in hospital for more than 7 days before the baby is 28 days old.
Much like other family friendly rights the right to leave requires no qualifying length of service but, in relation to the pay element, the employee is required to have 26 weeks’ service.
In terms of notice required to be given by employees the intention is to create a two tier approach. If the leave is to be taken very soon after the baby is admitted to hospital the notice requirement will be short and informal. If there is a gap between admission and the start of the leave then a week’s notice will be required.
The Government has explained that there are a variety of secondary pieces of legislation necessary to put this right into place. Therefore, it is likely that this Act will not be in force until 2025.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 has created a statutory right for unpaid carers to receive 5 days off work in order to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need. This leave is unpaid. The leave does not have to be taken in one continuous block and could be taken as half or individual days over the course of 12 months.
The Act defines a long-term care need as being an illness or injury that is likely to require care for more than three months, a disability, or a requirement for care connected to old age.
The explanatory notes to this Act set out why it has been deemed that there is a need for this new right. They state that approximately 4.2 million people across the UK are providing unpaid care by looking after an elderly or disabled family member and over half of these people are trying to juggle work with their caring responsibilities.
This leave can be distinguished from the already established right for time off for dependants as that allows for a couple of days’ leave to deal with unexpected or unforeseen circumstances. Carer’s leave is available for planned and foreseen responsibilities.
Again it has not yet been confirmed when this Act will come into force but it is not likely to be sooner than April 2024.
Protection from Redundancy
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 extends protection from redundancy for employees on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. Currently this protection ends when the leave ends but now, it is expected that the protection will apply from the date an employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy or adoption until six months after the end of their leave. During this period of protection employers will be required to offer these employees a suitable alternative vacancy.
This Act will come into force in July of this year.
For employers it is crucial to be on top of these new developments and prepare for them coming into force. Managers will need to be aware of the new forms of leave and be prepared to handle requests from employees.
If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.