Three Government-backed Private Members’ Bills that will give parents and unpaid carers new protections at work received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023. Here, David Sheppard and Beca Hayes outline the new legislation in further detail.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 will allow eligible employed parents whose new-born baby is admitted to neonatal care to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave. This is in addition to other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave. The new neonatal leave and pay entitlements are expected to set out in detailed regulations and to be implemented by April 2025.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will allow the extension of existing redundancy protections while on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave to also cover pregnancy and a period after a new parent has returned to work. The Act will enable further regulations to be passed which will enhance protections for pregnant women and new parents to confront common discriminatory practice from employers. The Act is expected to come into force at the end of two months beginning with the day the Act was passed, being in July 2023, and with detailed regulations to follow. The Act will be of relevance in redundancy consultation processes and is likely to place a statutory obligation on employers to offer suitable alternative roles to at risk employees for a period of 6 months following their return from maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 will create a new statutory entitlement to one week of flexible unpaid leave per year for employees who are caring for a dependant with a long-term care need. The Act aims to provide support to the millions of unpaid carers in the UK who invaluably contribute to society. It is expected that regulations implementing the intention of the Act will not be in forced before April 2024.
The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 11 May 2023 and is now enforceable in England. The new law will prohibit universities from entering into Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) which prevents the disclosure by a complainant from publishing any information about a “relevant complaint” or disclosing information about the complaint to other persons. A “relevant complaint” is a complaint made by university staff, governing body members, students or visiting speakers about bullying, harassment, or sexual abuse, harassment, or misconduct by any person.
NDAs can create a misleading impression that an individual does not have the right to pursue a matter to court/tribunal or that they cannot disclose the matter with a doctor, therapist, or the police. The hope is that this new legislation supports survivors of sexual misconduct to feel comfortable to speak out.
If you would like to discuss these legislation changes or are seeking general Employment advice, get in touch with our team of expert employment lawyers.