Statutory employment law changes

The carer’s leave regulations 2024

From day one of employment an employee who has a dependent with a long-term care need can take up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave in a 12 month period, in consecutive or non-consecutive half-days or full days, by giving the employer notice in writing. The notice must state why they are entitled to take it and give the longer of twice the amount of notice than the period of leave or 3 days’ notice. The employer has a limited right to give a postponement notice. Employee’s are protected from detriment and dismissal if they exercise or try to exercise the right or the employer thinks they are going to do so.  

Paternity leave

Fathers and partners can take paid leave in two separate one- week periods instead of a single block of one or two weeks and do so at any time in the first year after their child is born or adopted rather than in the first 8 weeks only. Whilst the 15 week notice of entitlement is still required a mere 28 days’ notice is required of the intended leave dates. For adopted children the notice period remains 7 days after the adopter is matched with a child. Declaration of eligibility for and the purpose of the leave is required. 

Flexible working

From day one of employment (not now 26 weeks) employees can make 2 requests in any 12 month period to work flexibly and the employer must within 2 months deal with it. The employer must ‘consult’ over and not merely consider the request and that may be more difficult to do now that the employee no longer has to explain what effect he or she thinks agreeing to it would have and how that might be dealt with. 

Redundancy protection

Since 1999 women on maternity leave and since 2014 parents (including adopters) on shared parental leave have had the right to be offered, in the case of the former, any ‘suitable available vacancy’ and in the case of the latter, any ‘suitable alternative vacancy’ in a redundancy situation. From April 6th this type of special protection has been extended so that: those on maternity leave enjoy 18 months from the first day of the expected week of confinement; those on adoption leave enjoy 18 months from the date of placement; and those on shared parental leave 18 months from birth (or placement) if the employee has taken 6 continuous weeks of such leave. 

In addition, from April 6th the special protection is extended to,

  • pregnant workers who are not on leave for the full period of the pregnancy if they inform of their employer of the pregnancy after April 6th;
  • a woman who suffers a miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy (during pregnancy and for 2 weeks following the miscarriage). If there is a still birth after 24 weeks the employee enjoys the same protection as a women on maternity leave. 

Practical tip

Employers are well advised to review not just their practice and policies on parental leave in its various forms, carer’s leave, and flexible working but also redundancies. Employers should always take advice from specialist employment lawyers when handling redundancies and/or any aspect of parental leave rights.