As we have advised previously, a number of changes to family friendly legislation were announced during 2023; and three key changes are destined to come into effect on 6thApril 2024. The Regulations do remain in draft form at the moment, so may be subject to change.
These draft Regulations currently provide for the following:
The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023
- Remove the requirement for an employee to have 26 weeks’ service before they can make a formal flexible working request (in other words: an employee could submit a request on their first day of employment).
- Gives employees the right to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period.
- Requires employers to respond to a request within two months; and
- Removes the requirement for the employee to explain what the effect of their request will have on the business.
These Regulations will come into effect for flexible working requests made on or after 6thApril 2024.
ACAS have recently consulted on a new code of practice on flexible working and this should be published in the New Year.
The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024
Currently, employees who are on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave have special protection in that they have the right to be offered first access to suitable alternative vacancies, if one is available, before being made redundant over other employees.
- Extend the period of special protection from redundancy for employees who are on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave.
The protection period will be extended to 18 months from the first day of the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC). The protection also covers the period of pregnancy. This extended protection will apply where the employee has informed the employer of the pregnancy on or after the 6th April 2024. The extension will apply to maternity leave ending on, or after, 6th April 2024.
The protection period will be 18 months from placement. The extension will apply to adoption leave ending on, or after, 6th April 2024.
Shared Parental Leave
The protection period will be 18 months from birth, provided that the parent has taken a period of at least 6 consecutive weeks of shared parental leave. This protection will not apply if the employee is either protected following maternity or adoption. The extension will apply to shared parental leave ending on, or after, 6th April 2024.
The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024
The key features of these Regulations are that:
- It applies to employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need and those who want to be absent from work to provide or arrange care for that dependant.
- Requests can be in consecutive, or non-consecutive, half-days or full days.
- Employees must give notice, in writing, of their intention to take carer’s leave confirming their entitlement to take it and giving at least twice the amount of notice than the period of leave requested; or, if longer, three days’ notice.
- Employers can postpone a request if the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted. If wishing to rely on this, the employer must give notice of the postponement before the leave was due to begin and must explain why the postponement is necessary. The employer must then allow the leave to be taken within one month of the start-date of the leave originally requested. Rescheduling the leave should be done in consultation with the employee.
This will be an entitlement from day one of employment and employees will be protected from detriment and dismissal because they take, or seek to take, carer’s leave (or the employer believes they are likely to do so).