New laws enhance leave and redundancy protections for employed parents and carers

Thrings law employment protection for parents

Parents and carers are being afforded new protections at work to cover leave entitlement and redundancy rules – here is what employers need to know:

Three new pieces of legislation have been passed by Parliament, though the commencement date has yet to be announced. They are designed to help to support the wellbeing of employees and protect vulnerable workers at difficult times in their lives.

In summary the new laws are:

  • The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act – This law will allow up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave for parents in employment whose children are admitted to neonatal care, enabling them to spend more time with the baby. This allowance is in addition to other leave and pay entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave.
  • The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act – This extends the redundancy protections for employees whilst on Maternity, Adoption, or shared Parental Leave to also cover pregnancy and for a period after new parents return to work.
  • The Carer’s Leave Act – The creation of a new entitlement for employees who are also unpaid carers for a dependant with a long-term care need to have a week of flexible unpaid leave a year, supporting them to better balance their employment and responsibilities.

Understand how this could affect you

If you are an employer, these new laws could very well apply to your business, so make sure you have read and understand what protections they afford your staff and that your HR team and managers have all received appropriate training as well.

For example, any organisation going through a redundancy exercise will need to check they are abiding by the law when pressing forward where amongst those staff at risk of redundancy, there are any pregnant employees, employees on maternity leave, and now recent maternity returners too.

Plan ahead

Knowing how much of your workforce could be impacted by these laws, whether they are carers or new or expectant parents is an ideal start to avoid any workflow disruption. Make sure your policies, such as maternity, paternity or adoption leave policies, are updated to fully reflect the changes to the law. Some businesses, for example Marks and Spencer, have already introduced neonatal leave for staff which is in line with the new law.

Up-to-date employment contracts should echo changes to policy. Ensuring staff contracts are accurate and include the full list of entitlements is a key condition of the Employment Rights Act and not adhering to this can result in employers facing financial penalties down the line should staff take a claim to an employment tribunal.

Keep on top of the changes

As well as the top line descriptions of the laws, employers should make sure they and their organisation are aware of the fine print and are seeking robust legal advice should they have any questions. In the coming months, the government will lay down secondary legislation to properly implement the new entitlements and HR departments will need to be up-to-date on the latest changes.

Thrings’ Employment Team is experienced in dealing with business matters that affect the workforce and has acted for both employers and employees from start-ups and SMEs all the way to multinational corporations across a wide range of employment matters. To find out how they can help strengthen your polices, and solve your disputes, please get in contact.

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