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On 25 May 2023, The Department for Business and Trade announced new protections at work for parents and carers, covering leave entitlement and protection against redundancy. These have been introduced as three Government-backed private members bills received Royal Assent.

The bills received Government backing in July 2022, so the confirmation that the bills will become law will not be a surprise, however, this is a big step forward in relation to family-friendly rights in the workplace.

These new laws when in force are intended to increase workforce participation and protect vulnerable workers. Further, as many families across the UK are facing financial pressure due to the ever-increasing cost of living, it is hoped that the reforms will help ease pressure on families whose children require neonatal care by ensuring they aren’t forced with the choice of taking unpaid leave or continuing to work.

Parents and carers will benefit from the following new protections once in force:

Up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023, will allow employed parents whose children are admitted to neonatal care to take paid leave enabling them to spend more time with their baby at an extremely difficult time.

The leave will be available as a day-one right and will apply to parents of babies who are admitted into hospital up to the age of 28 days, and who have a continuous stay in hospital of 7 full days or more. This will be in addition to other leave and pay entitlements such as maternity and paternity.

Marks and Spencer are one of the first employers to embrace the change and have already put in place a neonatal leave policy.

Redundancy protections for pregnant women and new parents

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will extend existing redundancy protections which currently protect employees on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave, to cover pregnant employees and those who have recently returned to work after taking family leave.

New leave entitlement for unpaid carers

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 creates a new statutory entitlement of up to five days of flexible unpaid leave a year for employees who have caring responsibilities. The intention behind this new entitlement is that it will allow carers to better balance their caring and work commitments and support them to remain in employment.

The introduction of these new pieces of legislation will be a welcome step for thousands of working families and will ease some of the anxieties around family-friendly leave.

The Government will put in place secondary legislation in due course to implement these new entitlements.

Please note that this information is for general guidance only and should not substitute professional legal advice. If you have specific concerns, we recommend consulting with one of our legal experts.

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