New leave entitlement supports unpaid carers balancing work and long-term care responsibilities

Pregnant women and new parents will now receive special treatment in a redundancy situation, as a suite of new laws are introduced – delivering the Government’s plan to support families and back hardworking Brits.

New laws will protect workers by strengthening existing redundancy protections to cover pregnancy and a period of time after parents return to work. The Government-backed package of Acts will also boost support to vulnerable workers offering greater flexibility and confidence to workers and businesses.

Families today receive new employment protections, including redundancy protections for pregnant women and new parents and a new leave entitlement for unpaid carers. In addition, there will be new flexible paternity leave and pay for parents of babies due on or after 6th April.

Against a backdrop of skills and labour shortages, these measures will help businesses to attract and retain talented staff. The measures also support groups more likely to fall out of the workforce, such as parents and disabled people, enabling them to thrive in the workplace.

This comes alongside measures to make work pay – cutting taxes by £900 a year for the average worker, increasing the National Living Wage from £10.42 an hour to £11.44, and introducing free childcare for working parents worth £6,900 a year. Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake said:

“Whether you’re a new parent trying to juggle work commitments with a newborn or a pregnant woman balancing the pressures of work and life, or looking after a disabled or elderly family member while working, these new laws will give families greater security and flexibility.

From childcare commitments to hospital appointments, the measures coming in today means more flexibility over where and when you work,   supporting workers across the UK.

These measures are good business sense too, helping firms to attract more talent, increase retention and improve workforce diversity.

Protecting and enhancing workers’ rights whilst supporting businesses to grow remains a priority for this government and a dynamic labour helps to drive up wages, employment and economic growth.”

This runs alongside new laws that give workers across Britain more flexibility over where and when they work, unless there are business reasons not to, as the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act comes into force.

This means employees now have the right to request reasonable flexible working from their first day of employment, with those requests subject to business approval, and delivers on a 2019 Manifesto commitment to encourage flexible working.

In addition, new measures require employers to consult with their employee before rejecting a request for flexible working. The employee will have the right to two requests a year – with employers needing to respond within two months, down from three.

Workers will benefit from the following new protections:

  • Additional redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents with the extension of existing redundancy protections to cover pregnancy and a period of time after parents return to work.
  • A new entitlement to a week of leave for unpaid carers who are caring for a dependant with a long-term care need. This will enable carers to better balance their caring and work responsibilities, supporting them to remain in employment.
  • Changes to Paternity Leave introduce greater flexibility in how and when the leave can be taken.  It can now be taken at any time in the first year of the child’s life and it no longer needs to be taken in a single block of one or two weeks
  • An improved flexible working entitlement, supported by a revised Acas Statutory Code of Practice, requiring employers to consider and discuss any requests made by their employee – who will have the right to two requests a year – within two months of a request, down from three.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said:

“The CIPD has been pleased to feed into the development of these legislative changes which will benefit millions of workers and enable them to better balance their work and home lives, and responsibilities.

At the same time, these changes will support employers’ efforts to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce by providing more flexibility and support to people with different needs due to ill health or caring responsibilities for example.”

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