Neonatal, carer and family leave acts receive Royal Assent

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act, the Carer’s Leave Act and the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act have received Royal Assent.

Once in force, these government-backed bills will support vulnerable workers and parents during difficult times.

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act, introduced by Stuart C McDonald MP, will allow eligible employed parents whose newborn baby is admitted to neonatal care to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave, so that they can spend more time with their baby. This is in addition to maternity and paternity leave.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act, introduced by Dan Jarvis MP, will see existing redundancy protections while an individual is on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave extended to cover pregnancy and after a new parent has returned to work. This is aimed at ending discriminatory practices such as dismissal, compulsory redundancy or poor treatment.

Meanwhile, The Carer’s Leave Act, introduced by Wendy Chamberlain MP, will create a new statutory entitlement of one week of flexible unpaid leave a year for employees caring for a dependent with a long-term care need. This will enable carers to better balance caring and work responsibilities and support them to remain in employment.

Kevin Hollinrake, business minister, said: “These additional protections will ensure people get the support they need. Over the past year, we have proven our commitment to supporting workers across the UK, including raising the national living wage to its highest yet. Protecting and enhancing workers’ rights while supporting businesses to grow remains a priority for this government and a dynamic labour helps to drive up wages, employment and economic growth.”

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Dr Emily Andrews, deputy director for work at the Centre for Ageing Better, added: “The right to a few days of carer’s leave will help carers manage emergencies or tough moments. Bringing this together with good flexible-working policies and quality part-time work opportunities will mean many more carers can find a balance between caring and employment that works for them.

“The new provisions mark a real victory for carers’ rights and will help thousands of employees to balance paid work and caring duties more easily. We hope that the Carer’s Leave Act will encourage employers to go even further in their support for carers who make such a significant contribution to our economy and society.”