Parents, carers and pregnant women now benefit from greater employment protections relating to flexible working and redundancy.

The changes, which came into effect on April 6, include:

  • Additional redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents with the extension of existing redundancy protections to cover pregnancy and a period of time after parents return to work.
  • A new entitlement to a week of leave for unpaid carers who are caring for a dependant with a long-term care need. This will enable carers to better balance their caring and work responsibilities, supporting them to remain in employment.
  • Changes to Paternity Leave introduce greater flexibility in how and when the leave can be taken.  It can now be taken at any time in the first year of the child’s life and it no longer needs to be taken in a single block of one or two weeks
  • An improved flexible working entitlement, supported by a revised Acas Statutory Code of Practice, requiring employers to consider and discuss any requests made by their employee – who will have the right to two requests a year – within two months of a request, down from three.

This runs alongside new laws that give workers more flexibility over where and when they work, unless there are business reasons not to, as the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act comes into force.

This means employees now have the right to request reasonable flexible working from their first day of employment, with those requests subject to business approval.

In addition, new measures require employers to consult with their employee before rejecting a request for flexible working. The employee will have the right to two requests a year – with employers needing to respond within two months, down from three.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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