Major Changes to UK Employment Laws: Enhancing Family-Friendly Rights

In a significant move to bolster family-friendly workplace practices, the UK government is set to implement several key amendments to employment laws starting from April 6, 2024. These changes aim to provide greater flexibility and support for employees in various family-related situations.

Flexible Working: Day 1 Right 
The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will take effect, removing the 26-week service requirement for employees to make flexible working requests. This means that employees can now make such requests from the first day of their employment. Additionally, employees can make two requests within a 12-month period, and employers must respond within two months. The requirement for employees to explain the impact of their request on the employer is also eliminated.

Extended Protection from Redundancy for Pregnancy and Family Leave 
The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave, and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 will enforce the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023. This extends the protection period for parents on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave to 18 months from the first day of the relevant event. This includes maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave.

New Carers Leave Right 
Starting April 6, 2024, the Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 introduce a new entitlement for employees who are carers. They can now take up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave in any 12-month period from the first day of their employment. The leave can be taken in half-days or full days and does not need to be consecutive. Employers can choose to pay for this leave if they wish, and employees must provide notice in writing.

Changes to Paternity Leave 
The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024, effective from April 6, 2024, bring positive changes to paternity leave. Employees can now take two separate one-week paternity leaves within 52 weeks after the birth of their child, offering more flexibility. Notice requirements are reduced to 28 days, down from the previous 15 weeks, providing greater ease for planning.

These forthcoming changes in family-friendly rights demonstrate the government’s commitment to creating a more supportive and flexible work environment. Employers should prepare for these adjustments, updating their policies to align with the new legislation. As these modifications take effect, it will be interesting to observe their impact on the work culture and the uptake of these family-friendly rights by employees.

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