While the bills have received Royal Assent, regulations detailing the benefits and procedures must be promulgated, and the legislation will not effect until that time. Details of the provisions of the current bills are as follows.
Parents of babies who require post-birth neonatal care of at least seven days following birth will be entitled to Neonatal Care Leave and Neonatal Care Pay. This leave will be a separate entitlement and parents will retain full entitlement to other statutory leaves such as maternity and paternity leave. Employees will, therefore, be able to add Neonatal Care Leave to the end of other forms of statutory parental leave to which they may be entitled.
Under the law, employees will be entitled to take between one and 12 weeks of paid Neonatal Care Leave while their child is receiving neonatal care, or after that period but within a prescribed period of not less than 68 weeks. Employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service and earnings above the lower-earnings limit will be eligible for Statutory Neonatal Care Pay. Parents taking leave will be protected from dismissal or detrimental treatment as a result of having taken Neonatal Care Leave.
As with the other acts, final details will be communicated with the regulations, however, initially, employees will be eligible, upon hire, for up to one week’s unpaid leave to arrange for or provide care for a dependent (spouse or civil partner, parent or child of the employee, someone who lives in the household or relies upon the employee for care). Eligible dependents must:
- Require long-term care, considered currently to last longer than three months because of a mental or physical illness or injury,
- Require care because of old age, or
- Have a disability under the Equality Act of 2010.
Items to be clarified in regulations include how and when leave can be taken, increments in which it can be taken, whether the leave accrues with the employee or per dependent, notice required to the employer and the employer’s ability to deny or delay the leave based on business requirements and what activities constitute long-term care.
Redundancy protection, including the right to be offered any appropriate and open position on a priority basis before being made redundant, is currently available to employees on shared-parent, maternity, or adoption leave. This act extends these protections to employees recently returned from maternity, adoption, or shared-parental leave, and to pregnant employees. Pending final regulations, the act suggests that redundancy protection may extend for up to 18 months. The act also extends redundancy protection to women who did not yet notify their employer of their pregnancy but suffer a miscarriage. In this case, protection will likely be provided with a shorter duration.
Employers should watch for the implementation of the regulations setting forth the final parameters, likely in early 2024. Employers planning to review or implement policies will want to minimally match the above provisions while noting that they remain subject to change and any policy implemented may need to be amended once regulations are issued.