Other Changes Under the Children and Families Act
Published July 2014
30 June 2014 – Flexible Working.
From 30 June 2014 an employee who has 26 weeks’ continuous employment will be eligible to request flexible working.
Prior to 30 June 2014, the Flexible Working Regulations stated that the right to request flexible working was available only to parents of children under 17 (18 if the child is disabled) or to carers of adults.
The change will enable more employees to request flexible working. If an employer fails to properly respond to a request for flexible working the maximum amount of compensation available is eight weeks’ pay.
Whilst the remedy available to employees remains modest, it is advisable that any request for flexible working is considered carefully as, in addition to employee relations and reputational considerations, there are potential risks in relation to discrimination claims.
The new Flexible Working Regulations apply to a flexible working request made on or after 30 June 2014.
1 October 2014 – New antenatal rights
The Act provides that an employee who has a qualifying relationship with a pregnant women or her expected child is entitled to take unpaid time off during working hours to attend antenatal appointments.
This right is limited to attending two appointments with each appointment lasting no more than 6.5 hours.
A qualifying relationship means the husband or civil partner of a pregnant woman, a person living with a pregnant women (but not a relative), the father of the expected child and the parent of an expected child in a surrogacy arrangement.
Adoptive parents may also take time off to attend appointments arranged by an adoption agency before the placement of a child.
The remedy for an employer’s unreasonable refusal of time off is compensation two times the hourly salary for each hour which the employee would have been absent.
Whilst the remedy is nominal, an employer should be mindful of employee relations and reputational consequences if it unreasonably refuses an employee’s request to time off to attend antenatal appointments.
Fostering to adopt (for children placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015)
Adoption leave and pay will be extended to prospective parents in the ‘fostering-to-adopt’ scheme.
Statutory adoption pay (for children placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015)
Statutory adoption pay for adopters will increase to 90% of normal earnings for the first six weeks bringing it in line with statutory maternity pay.