The Children and Families Act 2014 recently received Royal Assent and the proposed changes are outlined below.
Ante natal care
Women have for some time been entitled to take time off for antenatal care. Employed fathers (or the mother’s partner) will be given the right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments. No qualifying period of service will be required.
Shared parental leave
The details of shared parental leave and pay are set out in a number of regulations which will come into force on 1 October 2014 and will apply to parents whose babies are due on or after 5 April 2015. In the case of adoption, the regulations apply in relation to children matched with a person or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.
Adoption leave and pay
From April 2015 adoption leave and pay will more closely reflect maternity and paternity entitlements available to birth parents.
- Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to maternity leave and pay and if eligible will be entitled to shared parental leave.
- There will also be a right for time off to attend introductory appointments.
- Surrogate parents who meet the criteria to apply for a Parental Order will be eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay and shared parental leave and pay if they meet the qualifying criteria.
- The eligibility criteria for adoption leave will be changed so that 26 weeks’ employment is no longer necessary.
- The right to 52 weeks adoption leave is to remain available to employed ‘primary’ adopters with two weeks paternity leave for ‘secondary’ adopters.
- Statutory adoption pay will increase from the flat rate for 39 weeks to the same rate as statutory maternity pay (that is, 90 per cent of pay for the first 6 weeks and the flat statutory rate for the rest).
Unpaid parental leave
It is worth emphasising that unpaid parental leave must not be confused with the new shared parental leave. The continuing right to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave is distinct from the entirely new system of ‘shared parental leave’.
- From 8 March 2013, unpaid parental leave already increased from 13 to 18 weeks to comply with the revised EU Parental Leave Directive.
- From 2015, each parent has the right to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child up to the age of 18 (instead of the current 5 years).
- The qualifying period of one year’s employment is to remain.
- The right to take a maximum of four weeks unpaid parental leave per year is to remain.
The Children and Families Act 2014 also extends the right to request flexible working to all employees and removes the current statutory procedure for considering such requests from 30 June 2014. Instead, employers will have a duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner.
If you would like to know more then please do contact me.