New regulations providing new rights for employees are coming into force from 6 April 2023

The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024

These new regulations extend statutory protections from redundancy to cover pregnancy and a period after return to work.

The key points of the regulations are:

  • workers taking this kind of leave must be offered any suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation
  • the protection is for 18 months from either the expected week of childbirth or the placement for adoption
  • the protected period can be changed in certain circumstances
  • these new protections will apply to pregnancies disclosed to the employer on or after 6 April 2024, and any maternity, adoption and shared parental leave ending on or after 6 April 2024

The eligibility criteria for the special protection are as follows:

  • pregnant women – begins as soon as the employee informs their employer of the pregnancy
  • new parents – who have recently returned from any period of maternity or adoption
  • shared parental leave – for employees taking at least six weeks of shared parental leave

Employers will need to update their family-friendly policies and redundancy processes to ensure compliance with the extended statutory protection.

Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024

Employees will have a ‘day one’ right to make a flexible working request when previously they needed 26 weeks of qualifying service.

The key points of the regulations are:

  • employees can make these requests in any 12-month period
  • employees can take a minimum of 1 half working day at a time
  • requests can be for consecutive, or non-consecutive, half-days or full days
  • employees must give notice, at least twice the amount of notice than the period of leave requested. Or, if longer, 3 days’ notice
  • notice doesn’t need to be in writing BUT must mention the entitlement for carer’s leave
  • the employer can postpone the leave if there is a legitimate reason such as an effect on the operation of the business but must then allow for the leave to be taken within one month of the original request
  • employers will be required to consult with their employees as a means of exploring the available options before deciding on the request
  • an employee can bring an ET claim if their employer has unreasonably postponed, prevented or attempted to prevent them from taking carer’s leave
  • there is no requirement for an employee to evidence their entitlement to the leave
  • whilst the Carer’s Leave Act set out that regulations could provide that “particular activities are, or are not, to be treated as providing or arranging care”, the current draft regulations do not impose any such limitations
  • the regulations do now make clear that the entitlement to one week’s leave is the maximum any employee could be entitled to.

It is recommended that employers create or update their carer policies and provide written notice to employees of their rights to aid understanding and to help the process to be followed properly. Our dedicated team of employment lawyers are here to help, so contact them today.