All change for family-friendly rights from 6 April 2024

  • Employment Law
New Carer's Leave
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

Not only is there a new right to carer’s leave, but there are also changes to flexible working requests, paternity leave, and an extension of the enhanced protection in a redundancy situation to include pregnant employees, all from 6 April 2024

There is a lot happening, so, here is a rundown of all the key points.

Carer’s leave:

This brand-new right will enable employees to have unpaid time off work to provide or arrange care for their dependant who has a long-term care need. 

The statutory right to carer’s leave is due to come into force from 6 April 2024, subject to parliamentary approval of the regulations, and will enable qualifying employees to take up to one working week of unpaid leave per 12-month rolling period, from day-one of employment. It depends, therefore, how much that employee would usually work in a week. If, for example, an employee works for 3 days a week, they will get 3 days carer’s leave per rolling 12-month period. If they work for 5 days a week, they will get 5 days carer’s leave per rolling 12-month period.

The leave can be taken continuously, or in small blocks but a minimum amount of half their working day must be taken per instance. The employee must also give specific notice of either twice as many days as the period of leave required, or three days, whichever is the greater.

An employer cannot ask an employee to provide evidence to show that they are eligible to take carer’s leave. Also, a request cannot be declined, but it may be postponed if the employer reasonably considers that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted if the employee takes the leave when requested.

What's the difference between carer's leave and time off for dependants?

What does it mean to consult with an employee in the new flexible working rules?

How long does an employee have to work for to get paternity leave and pay?

Flexible working requests:

Currently, all employees with 26 weeks’ service or more have the right to make a flexible working request to ask for changes to their working pattern. This could be changes to working hours, days, or location, including hybrid or exclusive homeworking.

From 6 April 2024, there will no longer be a service requirement for making a flexible working request. That means it will be open to all employees from their first day at work to ask for changes to be made to how they work.

The following further changes are also expected but we are waiting on confirmation as to whether or not they will also come into force on 6 April 2024 or at a later date:

  • Reduction of the current timescale to deal with requests from three months to two months.
  • Removal of the requirement for employees to set out the impact of their requested arrangements.
  • Introduction of the requirement for employers to consult with an employee before refusing a request.
  • Increase in the number of statutory requests permitted per 12-months from one to two.

What isn’t changing, however, is the employer’s ability to refuse a flexible working request and the statutory reasons for doing so.

Paternity leave:

Changes are also on the way which will change the way in which an employee can take paternity leave, although, parliament still need to approve the regulations which they are currently debating.

When the expected week of childbirth is after 6 April 2024, or the date of placement is on or after 6 April 2024, employees will have greater flexibility in how they take paternity leave.

They will be able to split the leave out and choose to take:

  • One week of leave
  • Two consecutive weeks of leave, or
  • Two non-consecutive single weeks of leave.

Employees will also be able to take the leave at any time in the first year after the birth or adoption, rather than within the first 56 days.  

There will also be changes to the notice an employee has to give to take paternity leave. In birth cases, an employee will only need to give 15 weeks’ notice of their entitlement and then just 28 days’ notice of the dates they want to take the leave.

Enhanced protection in a redundancy

Employees on maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave have the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, where one exists, in a redundancy, above all other employees. From 6 April 2024, subject to parliament approving the regulations, this will be extended to include employees who inform their employer that they are pregnant and for 18 months after the birth. The enhanced treatment will also apply to adoption and shared parental leave arrangements.

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