The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill, Carer’s Leave Bill and Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill all received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023, with each becoming its own respective Act. These Acts, once they come into force, will introduce new rights for parents with children receiving neonatal care, an unpaid leave entitlement for employees with caring responsibilities, and new protections against redundancy during or after pregnancy, adoption or shared parental leave.
This Act is expected to come into force in April 2025.
Under this Act, parents of babies who are receiving neonatal care following their birth will be entitled to a period of paid neonatal care leave, which is in addition to any other statutory leave entitlements (such as maternity leave).
A person’s entitlement to neonatal care leave will be up to 12 weeks, with a minimum entitlement of one week’s leave. The leave must be taken within 68 weeks from the date of birth of the child receiving care.
Conditions of entitlement
There are four conditions that must each be satisfied for a person to be entitled to statutory neonatal care leave. They are as follows:
- the person is the child’s parent and/or satisfies prescribed conditions as to a parental or other personal relationship with the child receiving or who has received neonatal care. The “prescribed conditions” have not yet been specified and are expected to be set out in regulations;
- the neonatal care must last for at least seven uninterrupted days, beginning with the day after the day the neonatal care begins. What constitutes neonatal care has not yet been specified. However, the Act describes neonatal care as care of a “medical or palliative kind” which must start within 28 days of the child’s birth;
- the person must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 continuous weeks; and
- the person must be entitled to be employed at the end of that 26-week period.
For neonatal care leave to be paid, one further condition must be met – the employee on leave must earn above a certain amount per week (£123 for tax year 2023/24).
Rate of pay
The rate of pay for neonatal care leave has not yet been specified, but it is expected to be the lower of either a statutory flat rate of £156.66 per week or 90% of the employee’s average earnings.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023
It is not clear when this Act will come into force, but it is unlikely to be before April 2024.
This Act will create a statutory entitlement for employees to take unpaid leave to arrange for or provide care to a dependant with a long-term care need. “Dependant” is defined as the employee’s spouse, civil partner, child, parent, someone who lives in the same household as the employee or a person who reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care for them.
Conditions of entitlement
The person being cared for must have a long-term care need. This means they must have a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for three months or more, be disabled under the Equality Act 2010 or need care due to old age.
The leave will be available to employees only and will be available from the first day of employment. Employees will be entitled to at least one week’s leave for any 12-month period, and the leave may be taken either all at once, in a block of five days, or in individual or half-days to suit the carer’s caring responsibilities.
Employees will be required to self-certify their eligibility for carer’s leave. They will not need to provide evidence to their employer of how or for whom the leave is being used.
Employees taking this leave would have the same protections from dismissal or detriment as they would if they had taken other types of family-related leave, so carers will be protected from dismissal or any detriment because of taking carer’s leave.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
This Act will introduce new protections against redundancy during or after a protected period of pregnancy, adoption leave or shared parental leave. This Act is expected to be in force two months following Royal Assent, so around 24 July 2023. The exact sort of protections which will be introduced are not yet clear, as secondary legislation delivering these protections has yet to be implemented.
For each of these Acts, it is important to note that many of the rights and protections require further legislation to flesh them out before they come into full effect, meaning the details of the rights and obligations may differ slightly by the time the Acts are implemented.