New rights for parents and carers

15th June 2023

New parents’ and carers’ rights are set to be introduced. As covered in our recent article, some new family-friendly employment law rights will be introduced in due course, as a result of the Government supporting a number of Private Members’ Bills.

These received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023.

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023

The Act will introduce a right for employees to take up to 12 weeks’ leave (in addition to other leave such as maternity and paternity leave) where their child or a child for whom they have parental responsibility is receiving or has received neonatal care that lasts at least one week. “Neonatal care” is medical or palliative care within 4 weeks of the child’s birth. The right to leave will be a “day one” right, available to all employees. Neonatal care pay will be at a prescribed rate but the employee must have a minimum of 26 weeks service.

The Department for Business and Trade has identified that updates will be required to HMRC IT systems and support and guidance needed for employers and payroll providers as well as individuals. Implementation is currently planned for April 2025.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

The Act will provide one week of unpaid leave in any rolling 12-month period for employees (pro-rated for part-time employees) who are either arranging or providing care to dependants. The leave will be a “day one” right. No date has been announced but implementation will not be before April 2024.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

At the moment, employers proposing to dismiss an employee who is on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave are obliged to offer those individuals any suitable alternative vacancy (giving priority to those individuals over others at risk) where a vacancy exists. In just under two months’ time, the Secretary of State will be given additional powers to bring in further Regulations which are intended to cover:

  • 1. The period from when an employee tells her employer she is pregnant until 18 months after birth. This 18-month window will ensure that a mother returning from a year of maternity leave can receive 6 months’ additional redundancy protection.
  • 2. Those parents who have taken adoption or shared parental leave up to 18 months after the child’s adoption or birth.

Although we do not yet know when the Regulations will be put in place, employers should bear these extensions to the protected period in mind when considering upcoming redundancies in their business.

Finally, some employers may already provide for time off for carers or parents who need neonatal leave but for those who do not, new policies will need to be prepared in due course. Amendments will also need to be made to current Maternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Leave policies to reflect the enhanced redundancy protection. If you have any queries regarding these new parents’ and carers’ rights, contact our employment team.

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