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A reminder of some key employment rights coming into force in 2024.
We previously told you about the new rights for carers. The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 have been presented to Parliament, ushering in new right for employees.
Once in force (4 April 2024), employees will gain the entitlement to one week of unpaid leave annually for the purpose of providing or arranging care for a dependent with a long-term care need.
What the new right will:
- Apply from day one of employment
- Benefit employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need and want to be absent from work to provide, or arrange care for that dependant
- Enable requests in consecutive, or non-consecutive, half-days or full days
- Require employees to give notice, in writing, of their intention to take carer’s leave, confirming their entitlement to take it and giving the longer of three days’ notice or twice the amount of notice than the period of leave requested
- Enable employers to postpone a request if the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted. Any rescheduling should be carried out in consultation with the employee. The employer must give notice of the postponement in advance of the leave and provide an explanation. The employee is then entitled to take the leave within one month of the original leave start-date.
- Provide protection to employees from detriment and dismissal because they take, or seek to take, carer’s leave (or the employer believes they are likely to do so)
What the key terms mean:
- spouse, partner, child, parent
- Lives in same household
- Reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care
Long term healthcare need
- Physical or mental illness or injury that requires or likely to require more than 3 months care
- Disability; or
- Requires care relating to old age
Employers should prepare a Carer’s Leave policy and procedure in advance of April so that the entitlement and rules around it are clear. Whilst the right is to unpaid leave, employers can of course enhance the statutory leave, by paying all or part of the leave, and/or providing more than one week a year leave.
Flexible Working – Day one right
The right to request flexible working is about to become a Day One entitlement.
This groundbreaking change is set to roll out for flexible working requests initiated on or after 6 April 2024. The wheels of this change were set in motion as early as 2022 when the government signalled its intent for this amendment. While it was absent from the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 unveiled earlier this year, the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 swoop in to fill this void.
The imminent changes are not merely symbolic; they signify a fundamental shift in the landscape of flexible working rights. The eagerly anticipated Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, with its array of amendments, is poised to take effect on a date determined by the Secretary of State via a separate statutory instrument. All signs point to April 2024 as the likely start date, aligning seamlessly with the Day One right's grand entrance.
In the meantime, Acas has confirmed that the final version of its statutory Code of Practice on handling flexible working requests will be published in 2024. Employers should review their flexible working policies in line with the new Code.
Special protection for new families in a redundancy situation
More changes are on the horizon as the Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 take centre stage, ushering in a new era of extended protection from redundancy for employees on maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave.
The regulations, poised to bring the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 into operation, mark a significant step toward fortifying the rights of parents during crucial life events.
Currently, regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 ensures that parents on maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave are given first refusal of any suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation.
Under the new Act, this protection is extended in the following ways:
- For maternity: The protected period will now cover pregnancy and extend to 18 months from the first day of the estimated week of childbirth. Additionally, the protected period can be adjusted to cover 18 months from the exact date of birth if the employee provides notice of this date before the end of maternity leave.
- For adoption: The protected period will cover 18 months from the placement for adoption.
- For shared parental leave: The protected period will cover 18 months from birth, provided the parent has taken a minimum of 6 consecutive weeks of shared parental leave. This protection doesn't apply if the employee is otherwise protected under maternity or adoption provisions.
Crucially, the extension to the protected period for pregnancy applies when the employer is informed of the pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024.
Moreover, the extension of the protected period after leave has been taken will apply to any maternity and adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024. This also includes shared parental leave starting on or after the same date.
Please note that the Regulations are currently in draft form and may undergo changes before finalisation.