Three new pieces of employment legislation that will give parents and carers new protections at work received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023.  In this article, we look at the new rules and protections that will be introduced, who will benefit and what employers will need to do to be compliant.

What are the new entitlements for employees?

Once in force, eligible parents and carers will benefit from the following new protections.

  • The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act introduces up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave for parents whose children are admitted to neonatal care, enabling them to spend more time with their baby at what is a hugely stressful time.  This is in addition to other leave and pay entitlements such as maternity leave and paternity leave.
  • The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act extends existing redundancy protection during Maternity, Adoption or Shared Parental leave to cover both pregnant women and new parents for a period after birth.
  • The Carers Leave Act introduces a week of flexible unpaid leave a year for carers who are looking after a dependant with long-term care needs.  This will enable carers to better balance their caring and work responsibilities, supporting them to remain employed.

When do the new entitlements come into effect?

While the Acts have been passed by parliament, secondary legislation will be needed to give the fine details on timings and exactly who will be affected.  This is expected to be laid down by the Government in due course.  The start dates are likely to be in 2024 and potentially even 2025 for the new neonatal care leave, but we will provide updates when we know more.

What do employers need to do?

Employers will need to make sure that they comply with the new rules when they start.  The easiest way to do this will be to review and update their existing policies, communicate these changes to all staff and train managers to apply them properly.

The review and update of policies will involve the following:

  • Adjusting existing redundancy policies to include the extension of protections to pregnant women and new parents
  • Creating a new written policy on neonatal care leave
  • Creating a new written policy on the statutory unpaid leave entitlement for unpaid carers

This of course assumes that the employer has written policies already – if not then we strongly recommend putting them in place!

Contact our employment law experts to find out more

If you are an employee with questions on how the new protections will apply to you, or an employer who needs to understand how your business will be affected and how you can stay on the right side of the new laws, then Backhouse Solicitors are here to help.  Contact us today to book a free initial consultation with one of our friendly, expert employment solicitors.

Tel:          01245 893400
Visit:       17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JU
Or send us a message through the Contact Us page on this website.