New Employment Protections at Work for Parents and Unpaid Carers Given Royal Assent

Wed 7th Jun 2023

Parents and carers will be provided with additional protections at work, covering leave entitlement and redundancy rules, as a result of three bills which have received Royal Assent.

  • The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023;
  • Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023; and
  • Carer’s Leave Act 2023

In the Government announcement it states that these new laws, “will help to increase workforce participation, protect vulnerable workers, and level the playing field by ensuring unscrupulous businesses don’t have a competitive advantage and delivering on our priority to grow the economy”.

Up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave

Employed parents, whose children are admitted to neonatal care, will be eligible under the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 to take up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave.

This is in addition to other existing leave entitlements, such as maternity and paternity leave.

It will provide greater support for parents during incredibly difficult times, allowing them to be with their babies instead of worrying about work.

Redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents

New laws will allow for the extension of existing redundancy protections while on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave to also cover pregnancy and a period of time after parents return to work.

Research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that approximately one in nine mothers were either dismissed, made compulsorily redundant where others in their workplace were not or treated so poorly they had to leave their jobs. The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 aims to extend existing protections to protect pregnant women and new parents against discriminatory treatment.

New entitlement for unpaid carers

There will be a new statutory entitlement to one week of flexible unpaid leave per year, for employees who are caring for a dependant with a long-term care need.

Carers UK have estimated that there are as many as 7.7 million people in the UK balance work alongside unpaid caring responsibilities. It is hoped that the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 will enable carers to balance their caring and work responsibilities, supporting them to remain in employment.

Next steps

Secondary legislation will be needed to implement the new entitlements for employees into UK law. Although timescales are currently unclear, the Government has stated that is intends to lay down statutory legislation “in due course”.

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