The Children & Families Act 2014 (“the Act”) has now received Royal Assent. 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 as soon as the 30th June 2014.
Shared Parental Leave
The Act creates a new right to shared parental leave and pay for eligible working parents.
All employed women continue to be eligible for statutory maternity leave and statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance in the same way as currently. However if a mother chooses to bring her leave or pay or her allowance to an early end, eligible working parents can share the balance of the remaining leave and pay as shared parental leave and pay, up to a total of 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. Eligible adopters can also use the new system for shared parental leave and pay.
The Act also introduces changes to the existing adoption leave and pay regime, extending it to include prospective parents in the “fostering for adoption” system, and intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement who are eligible and intend to apply for, a parental order. Adoption leave and pay will also reflect entitlements available to birth parents from April 2015, such as no qualifying period for entitlement to leave and statutory adoption pay being raised to 90% of salary for the first six weeks.
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 the 5th April 2015.
Time off Work for Anti-Natal Care
The Act creates a new right for employees and qualifying agency workers to take unpaid time off work to attend up to two anti-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 intends these provisions to come into effect from the 1st October 2014.
Right to Request Flexible Working
The Act extends the right to request flexible working to all employees from the 30th June 2014. It also removes the statutory process that employers must currently follow when considering requests for flexible working. In future there will be 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 changes in the law.
If you require any advice or guidance on any of these subjects or any employment law related issue then please do not hesitate to contact Daven Naghen on 01775 722261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Dav at Maples Solicitors LLP 23 New Road Spalding Lincolnshire PE11 1DH.