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Improved working rights for parents and carers

Improved working rights for parents and carers
Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

New legislation covering leave entitlements and redundancy rules comes into force today.

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

Changes to paternity leave introduce greater flexibility in how and when this 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.

Joeli Brearley, founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “A significant number of new mums are pushed out of their job because they are seen as less committed to their role or a burden to business – the impact can be catastrophic for women and their families.

“Extending redundancy protections to pregnant women and parents returning from leave is a vital step towards reducing pregnancy and maternity discrimination.”

There is also a new entitlement to a week of leave for unpaid carers who are caring for a dependant with a long-term care need. The Government said this will enable carers to better balance their caring and work responsibilities, supporting them to remain in employment.

‘New laws will give families greater security and flexibility’

The Government said the new measures will help businesses to attract and retain talented staff and also support groups more likely to fall out of the workforce, such as parents and disabled people.

Kevin Hollinrake, business minister, 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 mean 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.”

The new laws run alongside other new legislation that gives workers more flexibility over where and when they work, 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.

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