Family Legislation

A wave of new family friendly legislation

A wave of new family friendly legislation

April 2024 will see the introduction of some new family friendly legislation. Many may say that the legislation does not go far enough to make a practical difference for families, but at least these are steps, no matter how small, in the right direction to affording workers a more conducive balance between their work and home responsibilities.  

Below is a summary of new legislation that comes into force on 6 April 2024.   

  1. The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024

This is a day-one right, available to all employees and applies to anyone caring for a spouse, civil partner, child, parent or other dependant who needs care because of a disability, old age or any illness or injury likely to require at least three months’ care. Carer’s leave is however unpaid and its maximum duration is one week per year.

While it is not open to employers to deny an employee’s request for Carer’s Leave, they can postpone it if they reasonably consider that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted if it was approved. 

For more information on the Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024, you can read didlaw Partner Elizabeth McGlone’s blog here.

  1. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023

Under these new Regulations, employees will be entitled to request flexible working arrangements from day one of their employment, rather than after 26 weeks which is the current law.  This includes requests for part-time, term-term, flexitime and compressed hours working, working from home or hybrid working.

Before an employer can reject any request for flexible working, they must explain their reasons for their decision. Employers must respond to flexible working requests within two months, rather than three months under the previous legislation.

Employees can make up to two statutory requests for flexible working in any 12 month period. 

  1. Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

At present, employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave have special protection in a redundancy situation where employers must offer them suitable alternative employment where a vacancy exists. Now this legislation will extend to give priority status to pregnant employees and those who have recently returned from maternity or adoption leave and shared parental leave for a period of 18 months. 

For a woman on maternity leave that period starts from the date of expected week of childbirth.  

For those on maternity leave who take their 12 month entitlement, the protection is extended for a further six months.  

Down the line more legislation is anticipated including:

  • the Worker Protection Act (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 which will require employers to help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace
  • the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 which will give workers the right to request a more predictable working pattern
  • the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 which will provide 12 weeks of statutory neonatal care leave but employees must have 26 weeks’ service to qualify.  

Watch this space!

This blog was written by Anita Vadgama, Partner for didlaw.