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Parent and Carer Legal Protection

A bill that will see parents and carers getting new employment protections received Royal Asset on Wednesday. The new laws will likely come into force next year, providing additional leave entitlements and extended redundancy protections.  They have been welcomed by family and carers rights groups.

 

New rights

 

  • 12 weeks paid leave for employees whose children are admitted to neonatal care after they are born. This will be in addition to other leave entitlements such as Maternity and Paternity Leave;

 

  • Redundancy protection for pregnant women and parents for an extended period once they return to work after Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave or Shared Parental Leave; and

 

  • The entitlement for carers to take one week of unpaid leave each year.

 

Redundancy protection

 

There remains some detail to be confirmed, most notably the length of extended period of protection in relation to redundancy. The Government has previously confirmed that the intention is to provide protection from the point that an employee informs their employer they are pregnant and for 18 months after birth.

 

Currently, employees are eligible to bring a claim for automatic unfair dismissal where they are made redundant or selected for redundancy for any reason connected to pregnancy or because they are intending to take or are on Maternity Leave. Employees must also not be subject to unlawful discrimination. For example, if an employer selects an employee for redundancy for a reason connected with their pregnancy or because they are on Maternity Leave this would be discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010. There is also the requirement that where a suitable alternative role to redundancy is identified, employers are obliged to offer this to anyone on Maternity Leave, Shard Parental Leave or Adoption Leave in preference over other employees.

 

Where an employee has taken Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave or Shared Parental Leave for statutory maximum of one year these changes to the law will effectively provide them with protection from redundancy after they return to work. It just remains to be seen for how long.

 

Clearly these provisions are a substantial extension to the protection afforded to new parents.  However, as ever, the extent to which they will reduce the number of unfair dismissal and discrimination claims will remain to be seen.

 

Article by Lucy Hughes, Employment Solicitor

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