New Bills receive Royal Assent

On 24th May 2023, three new Private Members’ Bills received royal assent. These Bills will give greater protection to parents and unpaid carers. Whilst the Government has not yet announced when these Bills will be in force, they will be coming into force shortly and this will affect all employers.The three new bills are the Carer’s Leave Act, The Neonatal (Leave and Pay) Act and The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act.

Carer’s Leave Act

The new law introduces a new entitlement for employees who have a dependant with caring needs to one week’s statutory unpaid leave to care for the dependant. This will be a day one right and employees will not need to provide evidence of their entitlement to this leave. This means that employees can self-certify, and they will not need to provide evidence of who the care is for.

Employees currently have to utilise other types of leave to care for their dependants, such as parental or annual leave. They can also take time off for emergencies for situations involving dependants. However, this emergency time off does not accommodate for planned or routine appointments for dependants.

The new provision will allow employees to use the leave to care for a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, someone living in the same household or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.

The dependant must have a long-term care requirement. This must either be for a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental) which requires care for a period of at least three months or more, a disability as defined in the Equality Act 2010 or care related to old age.

The leave can be taken as blocks of five days or as individual half days, depending on the carer’s requirement.

Employees taking carer’s leave will have the same protections from detriment or dismissal as they would if they were to take maternity leave or other types of protected leave. This means that they will be protected from detriment or dismissal because of taking carer’s leave.

The Neonatal (Leave and Pay) Act

This new law will allow eligible parents, whose baby is admitted to neonatal care, to have up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal leave to care for their child, in addition to other parental leave and pay entitlements, such as maternity or paternity entitlements. The leave, however, will need to be taken within 68 weeks of the birth of the child requiring care.

Parents will be entitled to the leave from day one of their employment. However, employees will need at least 26 weeks’ continuous service to be entitled to the neonatal pay.

There are some other conditions to receive the pay. The person taking the leave must be the child’s parent or they must satisfy prescribed conditions as to parental or other relationship with the child. The prescribed conditions have not yet been confirmed, but it is likely these will be stipulated in regulations. The neonatal care must also last for at least seven consecutive days, starting with the day after the day the neonatal care begins.

There is not yet any confirmation as to what constitutes neonatal care. It is likely, however, that it will be for medical or palliative care which must start within 28 days of the child’s birth.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act

This new legislation will provide a protection from redundancy to a wider category of workers. This is currently only applicable to employees who are on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

However, the new requirement will extend to pregnant employees and parents who have recently returned to work from parental leave, such as maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

This will mean that those employers will be required to offer suitable alternative vacancies to those employees who fall into those categories.

It is essential to note that these rights will likely need further legislation to flesh out the details. This means that the specifics of the legislation may change when the Acts are implemented.

If you would like more information about any of the issues raised in this article or any other aspect of employment law, please do not hesitate to contact at 029 2034 5511 or