New family friendly legislation: three government-backed Private Members Bills received Royal Assent

Three government-backed Private Members Bills received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023, with the government stating that it will introduce secondary legislation “in due course” to implement the new entitlements:

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act

This will allow eligible parents whose new-born baby is admitted to neonatal care to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave, in addition to other entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave. We await the detailed regulations which will:

  • Clarify conditions of entitlement
  • Clarify the duration of leave (which must be at least one week)
  • Define “neonatal care”
  • Set out rights in relation to return to work

Whilst not confirmed, a likely commencement date would appear to be April 2025 to allow time for updates to HMRC IT systems, payroll systems and with a convenient commencement at the start of a new tax year.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act

This extends protection for those facing redundancy in connection with family leave. Statutory protection in relation to redundancy currently applies only where the individual is not able to return to work from family leave due to redundancy (with the employer having in those circumstances to offer any suitable available employment to the employee). The new legislation will extend this protection beyond just the period of family leave and the protection will instead apply from when the employee informs their employer that they are pregnant until 18 months after the birth.

The Carers Leave Act

This will provide carers with a new and flexible entitlement to one week’s unpaid leave per year. The Act defines a carer as someone who is absent from work to provide or arrange care for a dependent with a long-term care need. A long-term care need is defined as:

  • An illness or injury that requires care for more than three months
  • A disability
  • Requirement for care due to old age

We await the detailed regulations which will cover issues such as:

  • Protection from redundancy or dismissal during carers leave
  • Rights to return from carers leave
  • Provisions about the notice to be given to employers.

As implementation dates and detailed regulations are not yet clear on any of these three areas, it may be premature for employers to be overhauling current policies, but we would recommend these issues are kept on the radar until the detail is clarified.

If you have any queries on this article, get in touch with Rena Magdani & Matt McBride.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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