Over the past few months, we have been actively supporting three Private Members' bills, which have been progressing through the UK Parliament. We have consulted CIPD members on each of these areas when we responded in previous government consultations, and know there is shared support for making changes and improvements.

We are delighted to say that each Private Member bill has now gained Royal Assent. The dates of implementation are still to be decided, but the Carer’s Leave Act and the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act are expected to come into force next year, while the Neonatal Care (Leave and pay) Act is expected by April 2025 at the earliest.

The UK Parliament website explains the process of how a bill becomes law.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

Wendy Chamberlain MP’s bill makes provision for unpaid leave for employees with caring responsibilities and was introduced in June 2022. Following agreement by both Houses on the text of the bill, it received Royal Assent on 24 May and is now an Act of Parliament (law).

This leave is a day-one right, available to all employees without any qualifying period. It applies to anyone caring for a spouse, civil partner, child, parent or other dependent who needs care because of a disability, old age or any illness or injury likely to require at least three months of care. This leave is unpaid. The maximum duration of the leave and how it can be taken would be set by regulations, although the Act would require the leave entitlement to be at least one week per year. 

Wendy Chamberlain MP: “I am delighted that Carer’s Leave is now the law. It is the right thing for businesses and for their employees. But what I hope most is that this sparks a change in work places everywhere, where we are better able to identify carers and give them the support they deserve.”

CIPD position: In the longer term, we support Carer’s Leave being paid but the passing of this bill is a pivotal step in recognising and supporting carers in employment. Our consultation response explains the CIPD stance in more detail.

Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act

Stuart McDonald MP’s bill provides new statutory leave and pay entitlement for employees, giving up to 12 weeks additional neonatal care leave and pay, one week for every week the child spends in neonatal care, on top of other parental entitlements such as maternity or paternity leave. The bill was introduced in June 2022 and following agreement by both Houses on the text, it received Royal Assent on 24 May. The bill is now an Act of Parliament (law). Recently, Bliss has highlighted that the Act is estimated to come into force in April 2025 and Mr McDonald and other Members of Parliament, such as Luke Hall MP, have also written and highlighted to the minister to request that it be brought into force sooner. The delay of the Act coming into force may be due to the number of pieces of delivery work that are required for the Act to be enforced, one of which is a piece of guidance for employers and employees explaining these new entitlements.  

Stuart McDonald MP:After extensive and determined campaigning by Bliss and other charities, along with parents of babies in neonatal care and parliamentary colleagues, I am delighted that neonatal leave and neonatal pay is now enshrined in UK law. This means that employed parents with babies receiving neonatal care will benefit from statutory support in the form of protected leave and pay, allowing both parents to spend precious time with their babies at such an incredibly difficult and traumatic time.

In turn, the Act will assist employers by providing clear rules and a financial framework to help them support their employees, as well as being an essential and compassionate addition to HR policy.

Whilst the Act is not expected to be implemented until April 2025, I will be continuing to urge the UK Government to reduce this lead time with HMRC as far as they can, so that as many parents as possible can begin to benefit from these crucial provisions.” 

CIPD position: The CIPD is supportive of a neonatal pay and leave entitlement and so are our members. As outlined in our consultation response, (76%) either strongly agreed or agreed that parents of babies who need to spend time in neonatal care should have access to additional pay and leave. 

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill

Dan Jarvis MP’s bill makes provision about protection from redundancy during or after pregnancy or after periods of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. The bill was introduced in June and following agreement by both Houses on the text, it received Royal Assent on 24 May. The bill is now an Act of Parliament (law).

The Act gives the Secretary of State the power through amended regulations to extend the current protections for women on maternity leave to cover a longer period of time during or after a period of pregnancy. This also gives the Secretary of State the power to make equivalent protections for those on adoption leave or shared parental leave.

Dan Jarvis MP: “At the heart of this bill are 54,000 women pushed out of the workforce each year simply for being pregnant. What new parents need is greater security in the workplace, but too often they are the first to be laid off. I’m proud this new legislation will make them the last.”

CIPD position: We support the extension of redundancy protections to help ensure that pregnant women and new parents returning from parental leave don’t face discrimination and increased risk of losing their jobs. Workers should not have to face discrimination due to their personal and family circumstances, and it is also in employers’ interests to create inclusive and supportive working cultures that attract and retain working parents. Our consultation response explains the CIPD stance in more detail. Over the past few months, we have been actively supporting three Private Members' bills, which have been progressing through the UK Parliament. We have consulted CIPD members on each of these areas when we responded in previous government consultations, and know there is shared support for making changes and improvements. 

About the author

Claire McCartney, Senior Policy Adviser, Resourcing and Inclusion

Claire specialises in the areas of equality, diversity and inclusion, flexible working, resourcing and talent management. She has also conducted research into meaning and trust at work, age diversity, workplace carers and enterprise and has worked on a number of international projects. She is the author of several reports and articles and regularly presents at seminars and conferences.

More on this topic

Report
CIPD Good Work Index: Northern Ireland

A Northern Ireland summary of the CIPD Good Work Index 2024 survey report

Report
CIPD Good Work Index: Wales

A Wales summary of the CIPD Good Work Index 2024 survey report

More thought leadership

Thought leadership
How are organisations transforming their HR operating models?

We look at the main focus areas and share practical examples from organisations who are optimising their HR operating model

Thought leadership
Skills, better jobs and business partnership key to UK growth agenda

Ben Willmott explores the new Labour Government strategies to enhance skills and employment to boost economic growth

Thought leadership
UK employment law round-up: June 2024

Monthly round-up of changes in employment law in the UK

Thought leadership
Job quality challenges in Scotland in 2024

We outline the challenges impacting job quality in Scotland as revealed in the CIPD's Working Lives Scotland 2024 report