Employers Get Ready: Carers And New Parents Now Have More Protection, Thanks To New Employment Laws

Here’s the lowdown on what’s changed.

by ATHERINE | THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS

New redundancy protections for pregnant women and new parents
Previously, where a redundancy situation arose when an employee was on maternity, adoption or shared paternity leave, the employer was required to offer the employee a suitable alternative vacancy where one was available. That protection has now been extended further so that it will also apply during pregnancy and after the period of leave. The redundancy protection during pregnancy will start when an employee tells their employer about the pregnancy. If the pregnancy ends before the employee becomes entitled to statutory maternity leave, the protected period ends two weeks after the end of the pregnancy.

After returning from maternity leave, employees will continue to be protected up until 18 months after the expected week of childbirth or the date of birth if the employer has been informed of it. Similarly, for those who have taken adoption leave, they will have protection during the period of leave and when they return to work for up to 18 months after the placement of the child. Employees who take six or more consecutive weeks of shared parental leave will also be protected during their leave and after it for a period of up to 18 months after the date of birth of the child.

Increased flexibility in paternity leave
Since April this year, the rules around paternity leave have become more flexible. The father or partner can now divide their two-week paternity leave entitlement into two separate one-week periods, as opposed to the previous requirement of taking it either as a single week or two consecutive weeks. In addition, they will be able to take the two week paternity leave at any time in the first year after birth (rather than having to take it in the 56 days following birth), and will only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave

New right to carers leave
This legislation allows employees who are unpaid carers up to five additional days unpaid leave per year to support them with their caring responsibilities. To be entitled to benefit from the Regulations, employees need to be providing ‘longterm care’ and employees will need to notify their employer of plans to take carer’s leave in advance where possible.

Neo-natal care
Previously there was no provision for parents whose babies needed specialist neonatal care and most partners in this position ended up using their two weeks of parental leave to stay at the hospital followed by being on sick leave if the situation continued. Now, each parent can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave, to spend time with their premature or sick baby who is receiving neonatal care in a hospital or other agreed care setting. Neonatal care leave will be a “day one right, in addition to maternity and paternity leave

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