The Children and Families Act 2014 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. This is a continuation of the development of “family friendly” policies.
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 previously. However, if the mother chooses to bring her leave and pay or 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 Government is seeking views on the operation of the new shared parental leave and pay system. It 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 5 April 2015.
Time off work for ante-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 ante-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. These provisions are intended to come into force from 1 October 2014.
Right to request flexible working
The Act extends the right to request flexible working to all employees from 30 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.