Family-friendly laws are changing: Here’s everything working parents need to know

HR expert Alan Price outlines the legislative changes coming up in April that will help working families.

Flexible Working

 

April is bringing a whole raft of changes to family-friendly laws, some of which are set to provide more protections and greater flexibility for many employees, including working parents.

Here’s a breakdown of the key changes you to be aware of.

1. Changes to flexible working

Flexibility is something that’s becoming increasingly important for working parents. Data shows a huge 88% of working parents would be interested in more part-time or flexible opportunities. And it looks like greater flexibility might be easier to come by as new rules being introduced should make the right to request flexible working easier for employees.

From 6th April, changes to flexible working regulations mean employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements from day one of employment instead of having to wait until they reach their 26th week, although the request must be in writing. This includes requests for remote working, flexitime and changes to how roles are performed such as job-sharing.

And that’s not all, there are a few other changes expected around the same date, employees will also be able to make two requests a year, up from one. And employers will have to be speedier in dealing with these requests as they have two months to carry out the full consultation and deliver a verdict rather than three months. But we are still waiting on confirmation as to exactly when these changes will take effect.

The onus will no longer be on the employee to explain what impact their request will have on the company. Rather the employer will only be able to refuse a request on the basis of one or more of these eight reasons.

1. The burden of additional cost
2. An inability to reorganise work among existing staff
3. An inability to recruit additional staff
4. A detrimental impact on quality of work
5. A detrimental impact on performance
6. A detrimental impact on the ability to meet customer demand
7. Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
8. Interference with planned structural changes to the business

2. More protection against redundancy

Redundancy can be a scary prospect for working or expectant parents. But with effect from 6th April, pregnant employees, and those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave will have extended protections against redundancy which will last for 18 months after the birth or placement of the child.

They will have the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy where one exists, in a redundancy, above all other employees.

3. New carer’s leave entitlement

For those who care for dependents with long-term illness or disability, the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 will provide the right to one week’s unpaid leave per year which can be taken all in one go or in separate blocks of at least half a day.

Long-term care needs are defined as an illness or injury that lasts longer than three months, old age or someone with a disability covered in the Equality Act 2010.

4. Changes to paternity leave entitlements

More flexibility is on the way for new fathers including parents in civil partnerships or partners of the child’s mother.

The following changes will apply:

– Paternity leave can be taken as two consecutive weeks or two separate blocks of one week of leave.
– Those eligible for paternity leave will have 52 weeks from birth (or placement for adoption) to take the leave, rather than the current eight.
– The notice of entitlement is to be given on or before the 15 th week before the expected week of birth.
– Four weeks’ notice will be required to take each period of leave (except in cases of domestic adoption where notice is seven days).
– Employees may give 28 days’ notice to vary the date of their planned leave if desired.
– Paternity leave pay is also increasing from £172.48 to £184.03 with effect from 7th April.

New rules will apply when the expected week of childbirth is after 6th April, or the date of placement is on or after 6th April for adoptions.

5. Rises to statutory payments

And lastly, statutory payments are on the rise. The payments for maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay and bereavement pay all increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week from 7th April.

Payments for statutory sick pay will also increase from £109.40 to £116.75 per week from 6th April. And for the first time, the national living wage threshold will be lowered from 23-year-olds, to 21-year-olds.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, the changes to flexible working, more protection against redundancy, new carer’s leave entitlement, changes to paternity leave entitlements and rises to statutory payments are all significant steps towards ensuring a better work-life balance for employees.

It’s important for working parents to be aware of these changes and take advantage of the benefits they offer. These laws are an important step towards creating a more family-friendly workplace and a brighter future for working parents.

*Alan Price is CEO at BrightHR and father to two young boys. He writes for workingdads.co.uk on parental leave.



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