Two Acts of Parliament were passed at the end of May which, when implemented, will allow for two new types of leave to which employees will have a statutory entitlement. (Meaning an employer is obliged by law to allow them).
These will be:
Neonatal Care Leave - a right for eligible employed parents whose new-born baby is admitted to neonatal care to take up to 12 weeks of leave. This is in addition to other relevant leave entitlements, such as maternity and paternity leave. Those with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service will be eligible for statutory pay.
Carer’s Leave - a day-one right for employees to take one week’s unpaid leave each year to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need. Subject to specified notice periods, the leave can be taken in increments of a day or half a day over a 12-month period. “Long-term care need” is expected to cover:
- Illness or injury that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months.
- A disability under the Equality Act 2010
- Care for a reason connected with old age.
These are not likely to become law until 2025 and 2024 respectively but this is a good time to summarise other similar types of leave to which employees have a statutory entitlement.
Emergency Dependent Leave
The law gives employees the right to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with emergencies involving their dependants. Dependants include parents, spouses, civil partners and children, among others who may live in the same home such as a grandparent or other relative as well as unmarried or same-sex partners who live together. This right typically applies when a parent has to stay off with a child who is too sick to go to school or when a household member suddenly falls ill and is unexpectedly taken to hospital or needs to be cared for at home. It is not aimed at ongoing absence.
An entitlement for bereaved parents to take one week or two weeks’ leave following the death of child aged under 18. This leave is paid where continuous employment is at least 26 weeks and the lower earnings limit (currently £123 per week) is reached. The rate of pay is the same as for maternity and other similar leave, currently £172.48 per week or 90% of average earnings, whichever is lower.
Not to be confused with ‘Shared Parental Leave’, which is usually where two parents split Maternity Leave between them. The longer standing “ordinary” Parental Leave is an entitlement for parents (including adoptive) to take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child up to its 18th birthday. It requires a year of continuous service in order to qualify. There is a maximum of four weeks per year for each child and it must be taken in blocks of at least one week.
This is not the male equivalent of maternity leave, it is where an eligible employee who is the biological father of a child, or the mother's spouse, civil partner or partner, has the qualified right to take either one week's or two consecutive weeks' paternity leave following the birth of a child providing they have at least 26 weeks continuous service by the 15th week before the expected week of child birth. If the lower earnings limit of £123 is met the employee is entitled to Paternity Pay of £172.48 per week or 90% of average earnings.
Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave, Shared Parental/ Adoption Leave
The existence of these types of leave is more widely known and the need for them is usually known well in advance. But as with the other types of leave above, advice should be taken on eligibility, notice requirements and implementation.
Non-statutory Leave Types
There is no statutory entitlement to compassionate leave or bereavement leave (except for bereaved parents of a child under 18). But contractual provision can be made for these and other situations if an employer wishes to provide entitlements beyond the statutory ones. Also, an employer can exercise discretion to allow paid leave (with or without using annual leave) or unpaid leave in circumstances that merit it on compassionate grounds regardless of any statutory or contractual provision. Keep a close eye on consistency though when exercising discretion. The above is an outline sketch of these leave types, for more detailed information on their scope and eligibility contact us on 033 33 215 005 or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org