Employees have a number of fundamental family friendly rights in the workplace.

These include the right to maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave and adoption leave. In addition, there are rights allowing time off for dependants (which is an employee's statutory right to take time off work in order to deal with emergencies involving their dependants) and ordinary parental leave (an employee’s statutory entitlement to up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave per child).

It is important to be aware of the family friendly rights available to your employees and to be alert to any proposed new rights. In this newsletter, we explore what changes are on the horizon:

Proposed new leave allowance for bereaved parents

The Government has published a bill that will offer two weeks’ paid leave for bereaved parents.

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill, will give a day-one right to parental bereavement leave for any employed parent who loses a child under the age of 18. Those who have 26 weeks' continuous service will also benefit from statutory parental bereavement pay, the cost of which employers will be able to recover from the Government.

There is currently no legal requirement for employers to provide paid time off for bereaved parents, although many do. As part of the right to time off for dependants, employees have a day-one right to take a “reasonable” amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, which could include making arrangements following the death of a dependant.

If the proposed bill gains approval, it is expected that it will be made law in 2020.

Return to work after career breaks

On 28 August 2017, the government announced details of new schemes to support teachers, social workers, civil servants and health workers who wish to re-enter the workplace after taking a career break. The initiative forms part of a £5million package announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the Budget to support people re-entering the workplace.

Grandparental leave

The government has plans to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents by 2018.

Shared parental leave is currently available for eligible parents of babies due, or children placed for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015. Eligible mothers are now able to volunteer to end their maternity/adoption leave to create leave which they can share with the child’s father or their partner.

30 hours of free childcare per week

In the Childcare Bill 2015-2016, the government proposed increasing the provision of free childcare for eligible working parents of children aged three and four years old to 30 hours a week (for 38 weeks of the year).

On 31 August 2017, the government announced the roll out of the 30-hour free childcare entitlement from 1 September 2017.

New Acas guidance on supporting parents with ill or premature babies

In September 2017, Acas published guidance to assist employers in supporting staff who have given birth to premature or ill babies. Click here to read this guidance.

There are over 95,000 premature or sick babies born each year in the UK. This useful guidance by Acas provides important information for employees and employers in relation to preterm births or full-term births where the baby is sick.

It also sets out best practice guidance for supporting employees during these difficult circumstances.


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