It has been a week of change with three new laws gaining royal assent.
The Carer’s Leave Act, Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act, and Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act are expected to take effect in 2024.
When introduced, these new laws will bring significant changes to employment law, so it’s important for employers in England, Scotland, and Wales to start preparing now.
Kate Palmer, HR Advice & Consultancy Director at Peninsula, looks at the changes that are coming and the impact they will have on businesses.
The Carer’s Leave Act
“This law introduces a new and highly flexible entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need. It is a first-day right, so will be available to eligible employees from the first day of employment with no requirement to provide evidence other than self-certification. The leave can be used for any type of care, such as taking someone to hospital appointments or assisting with financial matters. There is no restriction on how the leave is used, but usual qualifying criteria for ‘dependants’ will apply. This law has been designed to provide a smoother process for both businesses and employees.”
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act
“Under this law, parents of babies who are admitted into hospital aged 28 days or less will have the right to Neonatal Leave and Pay if the baby is in hospital for a continuous period of 7 days or more. The maximum amount of leave available is 12 weeks, to be taken in one block at the end of maternity/paternity leave. The government is yet to confirm how this new right will work with shared parental leave. The leave will be available from day one of employment. Statutory neonatal pay will be subject to 26 weeks’ service and earning above the lower earnings limit (currently £123 per week). Notice will need to be given, although very short informal notice will be acceptable when leave is taken very soon after the hospital admission. One week’s notice will be expected where leave begins at a stage where the baby has not recently been admitted.”
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act
“The introduction of this Act extends the current protection afforded to employees on maternity leave during redundancy. When a company is facing a redundancy situation, employers currently need to offer those who are on maternity leave a suitable alternative vacancy where one exists, but this will also apply to those on adoption/shared parental leave when this law comes into effect. In addition, the protection will apply from the point the employee informs the employer that she is pregnant, whether verbally or in writing, and will end 18 months after the birth.”
“Regulations for each of these laws will be published before they come into effect. Although that’s not expected to be until next year, it’s crucial for businesses to prepare now. These are some significant changes, so employers should take time to understand them, ensure that the information is communicated to employees to make them aware of their upcoming new rights, and put processes in place to ensure compliance once the laws take effect.
“Eligible employees will be able to raise claims to the employment tribunal where their employer fails to provide them with the rights set out in these new laws. Similarly, if an employee is placed at a disadvantage or dismissed as a result of them taking leave granted by the new laws, then claims may be raised.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.