Government consultations on support for families and time off – where are we now?

The Taylor Review and Good Work Plan have led to a large number of proposals and consultations over the last few years. A number of these consultations have focused on proposals to better support working families.  Recent developments in this area are as follows:

Neonatal leave and pay

In March 2020 the government published its response to last year’s consultation.

It confirms that there will be a new right to paid time off work for parents of babies who have spent at least a week in neonatal care, because they were born prematurely or sick. Parents will be entitled to one week of Neonatal Leave and Pay (at the usual statutory rate) for every week that their baby is in neonatal care, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

Parents will be able to take this new type of leave, on top of their maternity or paternity leave, to allow them to be with their sick baby in hospital. 

The new entitlement will be set out in the Employment Bill, which is yet to be published. It appears from costings in the Spring 2020 Budget that the new right will not come in to force until sometime in 2023. So employers do not need to start planning for this just yet.

Carer’s leave

On 16 March 2020 a consultation opened into the government’s proposal that employees with (unpaid) caring responsibilities, for example for a family member or dependent, should be given one week’s additional unpaid leave a year to provide care.

The consultation closes on 3 August 2020. After that, more information should be available for employers on how carer’s leave will work in practice, including how much notice an employee will need to give and what evidence employers should ask for.

No time-frame has been given for when the new right will be brought in, so again, this is just something for employers to keep an eye on in the longer term.

Other consultations the government will be responding to

Consultations on the transparency of flexible working and parental leave/pay policies and the wider reform of family-related leave and pay closed in October and November 2019. We are waiting for the government to respond to both of these.

On a more general note, the government will also be responding to its consultation on employment status and the more wide-reaching recommendations of the Taylor review, when time allows.  In the meantime, Principal Associate Siân Jackson explains what employers can do to prepare in this article.

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