Parents and carers are in line for new working rights from 6 April 2024, it has been confirmed.
The date was set for a number of family friendly regulations to be introduced in England, Scotland and Wales after they were laid before Parliament on Monday (11 December).
The new laws include The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 (Commencement) Regulations 2023 and The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024.
From next April, employees will gain day-one rights to request flexible working, meaning they will no longer be required to have 26 weeks of service before they can make a formal request for the arrangement, nor will they have to explain how it would work in practice.
The number of requests an individual can make will also rise from one to two per year, while the time to process these requests will decrease from three to two months.
Working Families, which worked with Yasmin Qureshi MP in drafting the bill, believes that “while there’s still work to be done before we can say everyone has equal access to flexible working, this legislation marks a sea change, and will pave the way for progressive reform in the future so that one day, flexible working will be the default in the UK.”
Commenting on the legislation, Qureshi said: “I’m grateful to Working Families for helping me initiate and progress the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act through Parliament. This new legislation will make it easier for employees to access flexible working opportunities and will encourage employers to think more about what working arrangements they can offer when advertising vacancies. For many of the UK’s working parents and carers, the ability to access greater flexibility could be the difference between quitting work or reducing working hours to meet their caring responsibilities and staying in their job and maintaining their income.”
Additionally, the period during which employees who are on leave for maternity, adoption or shared parental reasons are protected from redundancy will be extended.
For carers, their new rights from April 2024 will include a minimum of one week off every year to organise or provide care for a dependent with long-term care needs from the first day of employment.