The Children and Families Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 13 March 2014. The Act contains a number of employment law changes including a new system of shared parental leave and the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees. The extension of the right to request flexible working is intended to come into force on 30 June 2014.
Shared Parental Leave and Pay
Part seven of the Act creates a new right to shared parental leave and pay for eligible working parents. Eligible employees will be entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks’ leave and 39 weeks’ statutory pay upon the birth or adoption of a child, which can be shared between the parents.
Adopters will be entitled to take advantage of the leave rules, as will the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement. Statutory adoption pay will also be brought into line with statutory maternity pay, by the introduction of a six week period of earnings.
The Government intends the arrangements for shared parental leave and pay to come into effect in relation to babies due and children matched or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. Protection from unfair dismissal or detriment in relation to the exercise or proposed exercise of such rights is expected to be in force from 1 October 2014.
Time Off work for ante-natal care.
Part Eight of the Act creates a new right for employees and qualifying agency workers to take unpaid time off work to attend up to two ante-natal appointments with a pregnant woman. The right is available to the pregnant woman’s husband, civil partner or partner (including same-sex partners), the father or parent of a pregnant woman’s child, and intended parents in a surrogacy situation who meet specified conditions. Provision is also made for paid and unpaid time off work for adopters to attend meetings in advance of a child being placed with them for adoption. The Government states that these provisions are intended to come into force from 1 October 2014.
Right to Request Flexible working
Part nine of the Act extends the right to request flexible working to all employees from 30 June 2014. Therefore, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service, rather than just those employees who qualify as parents or carers.
The current statutory procedure that employers must follow when considering flexible working requests will be replaced with a duty on employers to consider requests in a reasonable manner.
Acas has published a draft code and guidance on flexible working to help employers prepare for the changes in the law.
For more information on this, please contact us on 01483 303636
James Haley, Solicitor and Director, Just Employment Ltd.