Greater legal rights for parents and carers – but are they enough?

Excello Employment specialist Sarah King examines three recent laws aimed at providing increased legal safeguards and extra compensated leave for People Management.

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act has received royal assent, marking a significant advancement in employment rights for parents and caregivers dealing with a child requiring neonatal care. This Act grants up to 12 weeks of additional leave and pay specifically for situations where a child needs neonatal care, without affecting regular maternity or paternity leave.

The law defines neonatal care as a scenario where a child receives at least seven days of medical or palliative care within the first 28 days after birth. This includes a substantial number of parents and caregivers in the UK facing such circumstances.

Although neonatal leave has been promised in political manifestos for some time, it’s now become law, indicating progress beyond previous inaction by politicians.

For the new Act to be effective, it’s essential for employers to promptly grant this leave, similar to emergency leave, as such situations are unpredictable. The success of this law hinges on the final regulations’ wording and mechanisms ensuring employer compliance.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act, also receiving royal assent, extends redundancy protection for pregnant women throughout pregnancy and after returning from maternity leave. Research reveals that many mothers have faced negative employment outcomes after childbirth.

The Carer’s Leave Act, the third new legislation, provides unpaid carers with one week of flexible unpaid leave annually for caring for dependents with long-term care needs, due to illness, disability, or old age. This supports carers in balancing work and caregiving, but the one-week allowance falls short, potentially leaving a demand for more flexible working arrangements.

Overall, these Acts demonstrate the government’s commitment to assisting parents and caregivers in maintaining work-life stability. Proper implementation and enforcement are crucial, requiring education of businesses and empowerment of employees to request their entitled benefits. The impact of these provisions will become evident over time.

Read the full article here