Several imminent changes to employment law that could be significant for you and/or your organisation will come into force on 6 April.
These changes give additional rights to employees such as extension of redundancy protection, flexible working requests from ‘day one’, and new rights on unpaid carer’s leave.
Are you ready? Now is the time to plan and get legal advice if you need it. Our highly skilled experts including David Farquharson and Sinead Noonan can advise you on every aspect of employment law and are on hand to give you the support you need.
Key changes that you need to watch out for are:
- Extension of redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents. Currently, employees on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave have enhanced protection from redundancy, as they have an automatic right to be offered any suitable vacancies. From 6 April, this enhanced protection will be extended to cover women from the date they notify their employer of their pregnancy, as well as employees returning to work from maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave, for 18 months following the birth or placement of their child.
- Flexible working requests to become a “day one” right. Employees will be entitled to make a flexible working request from “day one” of their employment, a right which is currently only available to employees with 26 weeks’ continuous employment. There will also be some changes to the statutory flexible working request procedure, and a new Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests will be brought into effect.
- (Minor) changes to paternity leave. Fathers and partners will be allowed to take paternity leave as either one block of two weeks, or two blocks of one week, at any time in the first year following the birth or adoption of a child. Currently, those on paternity leave are only allowed to take one block of leave (either of one week or two weeks) within the first eight weeks after adoption or birth. The notice periods required to be given by employees will also, in most cases, become shorter.
- New statutory right to unpaid carer’s leave. Employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need will be entitled to take one week’s unpaid leave to provide or arrange care in each rolling 12-month period.
The change most likely to significantly impact employers is the extension of redundancy protection.
Currently, it is relatively easy to identify who is on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave, and to ensure those employees are given special protection from redundancy. When this protection is extended to cover those who have given notice of their pregnancy, and those who have returned to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave, it will be important to keep track of who is entitled to the additional protection.
More generally, the extended redundancy protection is likely to add a layer of complexity to redundancy exercises, as it is increasingly likely that several employees will qualify for the enhanced protection during any one redundancy exercise.
On a more administrative level, for this and the other changes, now is a good time to make changes to your company policies in time for April.
If you would like to discuss any of these changes, or would like assistance in updating your staff handbook, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.