New Changes to Employment Law

On 6th April 2024, new employment laws came into force for all businesses. This included changes to flexible working rights; a new right to Carer’s Leave; additional redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents and changes to Paternity Leave. 

Flexible Working   

Under new laws the Right to Request Flexible Working applies from the first day of employment.  In addition, employees can now make up to two requests in any 12-month period (up from the current single request) and requires employers to respond to requests within 2 months instead of 3. An explanation and consultation now has to be provided upon rejection of a request.   

Carer’s Leave   

For employees who are carers, a new unpaid leave entitlement is now available from day one of their employment. Previously they have not had a dedicated leave right. This will afford employees who are carers greater flexibility to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term need.  

Pregnancy and Family Leave  

Under current law, employees on Maternity Leave, Shared Parental Leave or Adoption Leave have enhanced protection in a redundancy process, where employers have to offer them a suitable alternative vacancy where one is available. This protection is sometimes referred to as “MAPLE”. 

MAPLE protection now extends to cover an employee from the point they tell their employer they are pregnant, and could continue for 18 months after the birth of the child – which will include the period of relevant parental leave.

Employees who have taken any period of Maternity or Adoption Leave qualify for the MAPLE protection at the end of their leave for whatever remains of the 18 months.  Those who have taken Shared Parental Leave alone (I.e. they have not previously taken a period of Maternity or Adoption Leave) will need to have taken a period of 6 continuous weeks leave to qualify for the additional protection once the leave has ended. 

Paternity Leave 

Changes to Paternity Leave introduce greater flexibility in how and when the leave can be taken.  It can now be taken at any time in the first year of the child’s life and it no longer needs to be taken in a single block of one or two weeks – the weeks can be split and be taken at different times.

You can find more information about employing people here.