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Navigating the 2024 Maternity Law Update

This year, significant changes are set to change maternity laws, providing enhanced support for pregnant individuals and new parents.

25 January 2024

In 2024, significant changes are set to change maternity laws, providing enhanced support for pregnant individuals and new parents. These updates are designed to offer more protection, flexibility, and support for those navigating the delicate balance of work and family life during the exciting and challenging time of welcoming a new baby.

Neonatal Act

One of the changes is the introduction of the Neonatal Act, a much-needed provision for parents with babies in neonatal intensive care for the first 28 days of their lives. Under this act, parents are entitled to neonatal leave if their baby has stayed in intensive care for more than seven consecutive days. Importantly, this leave is a day-one right. Parents can take up to 12 weeks of neonatal leave, which can be used at the end of maternity or paternity leave. This crucial adjustment recognises the unique challenges faced by families with newborns requiring intensive medical care and is set to come into act in April 2025.

Protection from redundancy

To address the vulnerability of individuals on maternity, shared parental, or adoption leave during times of company restructuring, the Protection from Redundancy Act comes into play. This act mandates that companies making redundancies must offer an alternative position to those on maternity leave if one is available. The Act, which comes into effect from 6 April 2024, protects pregnant employees, from the moment they notify their employer of their pregnancy, through to 18 months after childbirth.

Changes to flexible working

Flexibility in the workplace is a concern for many expectant and new parents. The soon to be updated maternity laws now allow individuals to request flexible work arrangements from day one of their employment. From 6 April 2024, employees can submit two flexible working requests per year without having to explain in detail how it may impact the company. This remains a right to request flexible work arrangements.

Carers Leave Act

Recognising the challenges faced by individuals caring for dependents with long-term needs, the Carers Leave Act introduces a one-week annual leave entitlement. This leave is a crucial resource for those juggling work and caregiving responsibilities. Dependants are not only a spouse, civil partner, child, or parent with long-term care needs but also anyone who reasonably relies on the employee for care. Long term needs are defined as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months, or old age. Coming into effect from April 2024, the right will be for those who want to be absent from work to provide or arrange care for that dependant.

The upcoming maternity law updates in 2024 mark a significant step towards creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace for expectant and new parents. If you would like more information on your employment rights, visit our employment page. For any employment enquiries, do not hesitate to get in touch here

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