Skip to main content
main content, press tab to continue
Article | Global News Briefs

United Kingdom: New rights for carers and for employees requesting flexible work

By Mark Simmonds | August 11, 2023

New laws in the U.K. aim to meet the accelerating demand for flexibility at work and stronger family leave protections.
Health and Benefits|Benessere integrato|Ukupne nagrade

Employer Action Code: Act

Several recent pieces of legislation — which have all received Royal Assent — establish new entitlements for neonatal care leave and carer’s leave, provide protection against redundancy to employees during pregnancy and after taking family-related leave, and ease requirements for employees requesting flexible work arrangements.

Key details

  • The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 entitles employees to “statutory neonatal care” paid leave of up to 12 weeks (payable by the employer) in the event their child is admitted for neonatal care within 28 days after birth and when the care lasts for at least seven uninterrupted days. The leave may be taken by both parents, in addition to maternity or paternity leave, within 68 weeks of birth. The effective date of the entitlement, as well as the statutory neonatal care pay rate (expected to align with the statutory rates for the various parental leaves) will be specified in future regulations but is targeted to be April 2025.
  • The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 entitles employees to five days of unpaid leave per year for the care of a dependent with long-term care needs. Dependents include a spouse, civil partner, child, parent and others who reasonably rely on the employee for care. Currently, employees may take a “reasonable” amount of time off from work to care for a dependent in emergencies. The effective date of the entitlement will be specified in future regulations but is not expected to be before April 2024.
  • The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 extends preexisting protections against redundancy (i.e., for those on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave) to cover employees for a period after they return to work from family-related leave as well as pregnant employees during “a protected period of pregnancy.” The act took effect on July 24, 2023, but contains few details (e.g., the act does not specify the duration of the protection period, though other communications indicate that it will likely be set at six months in future regulations).
  • The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 allows employees to make up to two requests for flexible working in any 12-month period (previously only one was permitted), eliminates the requirement that employees explain the expected effect on the employer and requires that employers consult with the employee before rejecting a request. Among other things, regulations are expected to allow such requests from the start of employment (currently only after 26 weeks). The effective date is expected to be in 2024.

Employer implications

The changes aim to help employees balance their work and home lives. Many implementation details for the various pieces of legislation will be covered in future regulations. Employers should monitor the development of these regulations and start reviewing their family leave and flexible work policies.


Mark Simmonds

Contact us