However the new rights are not yet in force… Three of the private members bills introducing rights originally proposed under the 2019 Employment Bill have received Royal Assent. This brings new protections at work for parents and carers a step closer.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 will provide up to 12 weeks' paid leave for eligible employed parents whose babies are admitted to neonatal care within the first 4 weeks following birth. This is in addition to other entitlements such as maternity or paternity leave and pay. The right to leave will be a "day one" right, however the right to pay has a 26 weeks' service requirement and the employee must have been earning at least the lower earnings limit for a period of 8 weeks prior to taking the leave.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 provides for the extension of existing redundancy protections (whilst on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave), to also cover pregnancy and a period of time after a new parent has returned to work. Whilst the detail of the right will be set out in Regulations, it is expected that the protection will apply from the date an employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy until six months after the end of their leave. During this "protected period", before making pregnant employees and new parents redundant, employers will be required to offer them a suitable alternative vacancy, where one exists.
The Carer's Leave Act 2023 creates a new entitlement for unpaid carers to one week of flexible unpaid leave per year for employees who are caring for a dependant with a long-term care need. This will also be a "day one" right. Employees will be able to take their leave flexibly for planned and unforeseen caring commitments. Employees taking this leave will be protected from dismissal or any detriment because of having taken time off.
In terms of implementation, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will come into force in late July giving the UK Government the power to make Regulations enacting the new law. Those Regulations are to be laid down "in due course". We will have to wait a bit longer for the other two. It is anticipated that the Carer's Leave Act 2023 will not come into force until April 2024 at the earliest, while it will be 2025 before the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 comes into force.
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