New employment protections for parents and carers
Parents and unpaid carers will be given new protections at work after three Government backed Private Members Bills received royal assent on 24 May 2023. The Bills are the:
- Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill;
- Carer’s Leave Bill; and
- Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill
Once in force, the legislation will provide parents and carers with the following new protections:
- Up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave for employed parents whose children are admitted to neonatal care (this will supplement existing pay entitlements such as maternity and paternity)
- Redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents extending existing redundancy protections to cover pregnancy and a period of time after parents return to work
- A new entitlement for unpaid carers to a week of flexible unpaid leave, for employees who are caring for a dependent with a long-term care need
Neonatal care leave and pay
The leave will be available to employees from their first day of employment where neonatal care:
- Starts before the end of a period of 28 days beginning with the day after the child’s birth
- Continues uninterrupted for a period of at least seven days beginning with the day after the day on which the care started
Employees will be able to take the leave either when their child is receiving neonatal care or after that period.
Employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service who have earnings not less than the lower earnings limit will also be entitled to statutory neonatal care pay.
The government has announced that the new neonatal leave and pay entitlements are expected to be delivered in April 2025.
Under current legislation (Regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999), employees are protected from redundancy for the duration of their maternity leave.
Under the new Bill, the period of protection from redundancy will be extended to protect employees from the moment they inform their employer of their pregnancy until 18 months after the birth.
Parents taking adoption or shared parental leave will also be protected from redundancy while on leave and for a period of 18 months after their return.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which the Act was passed.
The leave will be available to employees from their first day of employment provided they meet the eligibility criteria. Employees will be able to take the leave flexibly to suit their caring responsibilities.
There will be no requirement for employees to provide evidence of how the leave is used or who it is used for.
A date for implementation of the provisions of the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 is yet to be announced but it is unlikely to be before April 2024.