New Protections for Parents and Carers at Work Receive Royal Assent

4 minutes reading time

Bills aimed at giving parents and carers new protections at work concerning leave entitlement and redundancy protections received royal assent on 24 May 2023.

These new laws are as follows:

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

Additional secondary legislation will need to be created to implement these new rights and protects, and we await an announcement for this.

Charities and parties will warmly welcome these developments following years of campaigning.

In the article below, Myerson’s team of expert employment lawyers explores each in greater detail.

Contact Our Employment Solicitors

New protections for parents and carers at work receive royal assent 2

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act

On 24 May 2023, the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill received Royal Assent and became law.

When implemented, the Act will entitle eligible employed parents whose newborn baby is admitted to neonatal care to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

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

The length of leave and statutory neonatal pay will be based on how long their baby receives neonatal care and will apply if they receive this care for more than seven continuous days before they reach 28 days old.

Bliss, a charity for babies who are born premature or sick, revealed that 1 in 7 babies born in the UK are admitted to a neonatal unit each year.

For parents of these babies, the experience can be traumatic and life-changing, which can be exacerbated by the previous inflexibility of the parental leave system.

This development is, therefore, welcome news for both parents and their employers.

However, disappointingly for families currently receiving support from neonatal care, access to statutory neonatal leave and pay is not expected to be until April 2025.

Get In Touch With Our Employment Team

The Neonatal Care Leave and Pay Act

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act is designed to protect pregnant employees and those returning from family leave by extending existing redundancy protections to cover pregnancy and a period after parents return to work.

A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that:

  • 1 in 9 mothers were either dismissed, made compulsorily redundant, or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job; and
  • 1 in 5 mothers said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and colleagues.

The new legislation aims to remove pregnancy discrimination and the disadvantages reported by expectant mothers and those returning from family leave.

The law currently protects parents from redundancy only whilst on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave.

A TUC report found employers with practices to support pregnant women and new parents have an increased likelihood of maintaining a skilled and diverse workforce, in turn increasing profitability and productivity.

It can also result in higher levels of employee satisfaction.

Speak With Our Employment Lawyers

The Protection from Redundancy Pregnancy and Family Leave Act

The Carer’s Leave Act

The pressure of having to juggle paid work alongside unpaid care has led to hundreds of thousands of people leaving the labour market.

Carers UK reported that, on average, 600 people a day leave employment due to their care duties.

A 2021 report by CIPD explored the experiences of working carers in England and Wales and highlighted the difficulties of balancing care responsibilities and employment.

Of the 970 working carers who took part in the survey:

  • 30% had reduced their working hours because of their caring responsibilities.
  • 36% had refused a job offer or promotion or decided against applying for a job because of their caring role.
  • 28% had not discussed their caring responsibilities with anyone at work. Of that group, 39% said this was because they did not believe anything would change.
  • 60% reported low mental well-being.
  • Only 11% of those surveyed said combining employment with caring did not impact their stress or anxiety levels at work.

Contact Our Employment Experts

The Carers Leave Act v2

The Work and Pensions Select Committee 2017 Enquiry

The Work and Pensions Select Committee’s 2017 enquiry into employment support for carers revealed that carers must “often must choose between taking a sick day or using a day’s annual leave.

This can be detrimental to their own physical and mental well-being.”

The Carer’s Leave Act will permit the estimated 2 million members of the workforce who have to balance work with caring responsibilities to take up to 5 days of unpaid carer’s leave.

This development, which has been campaigned for over the decades by Carers UK, is expected to make a significant difference in unpaid carers’ lives, helping them stay in work and improving their well-being by giving time off to attend appointments, arrange or provide care.

In addition to helping support families and employees, it will help employers retain skilled employees who would otherwise likely leave employment due to the struggles of having to balance caring responsibilities and work.

Once implemented, it is clear that these new laws will help to boost workforce participation, protect vulnerable workers, and ease pressure on those trying to balance their job with their personal responsibilities whilst supporting businesses to grow.

Get In Touch With Myerson Solicitors

The Work and Pensions Select Committee 2017 Enquiry

Contact Our Employment Law Team

Whether you are an employer who would like to understand how we can help you recognise and support the carers within your organisation or an employee who provides care for a dependent and would like to know more about how this will affect you, Myerson’s team of specialist employment lawyers are on hand to assist you.