27 June, 2023
Recently, in May 2023, three Private Members' Bills received Royal Assent; all of which expand the rights and protections currently available for parents and carers. The Government have not presented any timescales in regard to when the Acts come into force, simply stating that it will happen "in due course". It is likely that these reforms will take at least 12 months to be put into force and therefore, the following rights are likely to take effect sometime in 2024.
This Act will give eligible employed parents the right to up to 12 weeks of paid leave where a baby up to the age of 28 days is admitted to hospital and the baby has been in hospital for seven days or more. This will be in addition to other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave. The right to take this leave is a day one right which means there is no service requirement. However, employees will only be paid for this leave if they have at least 26 weeks' service and are earning no less than the lower earnings threshold for the 8 week period prior to taking leave.
Under the current law, employers are obliged to offer an employee on maternity (whether ordinary or additional), adoption, or shared parental leave a suitable vacancy where one exists during a redundancy exercise. This Act will extend this obligation to include pregnant women and new parents who are returning to work after leave - this period is expected to last for 6 months for those returning from maternity and adoption leave, but this is yet to be confirmed. The new Act will not cover fathers returning from paternity leave. It will, however, protect those who have had a miscarriage even if they have not yet informed their employer of their pregnancy.
This Act will create a new statutory entitlement to 5 days' unpaid carers leave each year, for employees who have dependents with a long-term need. The aim of this act is to enable such employees to have sufficient time to care for or arrange alternative care for their dependents. The Government have also confirmed that they will ensure employees who exercise this right will be protected from dismissal or detriment for exercising their right to this leave.
The above changes will require further regulations from the Government setting out precisely how the new laws will operate, but these are not expected to come into force before 2024. Whilst there is no legal requirement to comply with the above legislation at the current time, it would be prudent for employers to review their current procedures so they can identify which policies will need updating as and when the new regulations come into force.
If you require further information or assistance in relation to this topic, please contact our employment team. Additionally, if you would like to keep up to date with the forthcoming changes, please ensure that you register for our regular newsletters (sign up here).
Please note this is general advice not legal advice.
For more information contact Jo Handler in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 0161 918 0004. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
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