Parents and unpaid carers are due to receive new employment rights which will grant them extra protection from redundancy while on parental or carer leave
Once in force, the Bill will ban companies from making women redundant from the moment they disclose their pregnancy until their child is 18 months old.
Under the Protection from Redundancy Act, pregnant women and new parents will be given an extension of existing redundancy protections, to help cover pregnancy and a period of time after parents return to work.
Currently, parents are only protected from redundancy while on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave.
The Neonatal Care Act gives parents whose newborn baby is admitted to neonatal care up to 12 weeks’ paid leave, in addition to other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave.
The length of leave will be based on how long their baby receives neonatal care and will apply if their baby receives neonatal care for more than seven continuous days before they reach 28 days old.
The Carers’ Leave Act will give working carers up to five days of unpaid carers leave per year.
The Act will ensure that the estimated two million employees currently juggling paid employment and caring responsibilities will be protected.
The legislation has been backed by trade unions including Unison and the TUC, alongside organisations such as the CBI.
Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, said: ‘What new parents often need most is job security, but pregnant women and new parents are too often first in line for redundancy. This new law adds greater workplace protections to the statute book.’
Following an inquiry in November 2017, the Work and Pensions Select Committee found that employment support for carers was limited, and that carers had to choose between taking a sick day or using a day’s annual leave.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: ‘This is a historic moment for unpaid carers and Carers UK’s decades-long campaign to improve working carers’ rights – we know many of them will be delighted by this new law.
‘This legislation sets us up for the future and we hope it will see employers give greater consideration to the needs of carers in their workforces.’
The government will need to introduce secondary legislation to implement these new entitlements on a date which is yet to be announced, with changes at the earliest being in 2024.
Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: ‘We know how stressful it can be for parents caring for a new-born in neonatal care, or someone who is trying to juggle work with caring responsibilities, and these additional protections will ensure they get the support they need.’