Four family friendly policy changes to be aware of

Several pieces of UK employment legislation will come into effect from 6 April 2024. We are working to update our policies to reflect these changes, which are summarised below:

Flexibility on taking paternity/ partner leave

From 6 April, changes are being introduced for staff taking paternity/ partner leave (whether welcoming a new baby or adopting a child). Instead of having to take paternity/ partner leave within the first 8 weeks of the birth/ placement, this can now be taken within the first 12 months. The leave can be taken in either one block of two weeks or two periods of one week. The notice period of when the leave will be taken has also reduced to 28 days.

We are in the process of updating the Family Support Leave policy and paternity / partner leave guidance to reflect these changes from 6 April.

Flexible working as a day-one right

Flexible working will become a 'day-one' right, meaning staff will no longer have to wait until they reach a certain service date to make an application. In addition, staff can make up to two applications for flexible working in a 12 month period. The Flexible Working policy, procedure and guidance will be updated on 6 April to reflect these changes.

Unpaid Carers Leave

From 6 April, it becomes a statutory right to take up to one week of unpaid carers leave every 12 months. With this change in legislation we wanted to remind colleagues of the support that is already available. The University has had guidance in place for supporting staff with caring responsibilities for several years, including the ability to take unpaid leave through the Leave in Special Circumstances policy.

As with all requests for special leave, we recommend that managers consider a mix of flexi leave, annual leave and special leave (unpaid or paid according to policy) and consider how else we can best support staff during times of need. This could be as simple as a temporary change to start and finish times, working remotely more often or other short term flexible working arrangements. For further guidance see supporting staff with caring responsibilities.

Protection from Redundancy - Pregnancy and Family Leave

The Redundancy procedure is currently under review and in consultation with campus Trade Unions. The revised procedure is not quite ready for communication but there is a new government legislation change that comes into effect on 6 April we wanted to make managers aware of.

The Protection from Redundancy Act provides for greater protection against redundancy during pregnancy and on return to work. From 6 April the regulations extend the redundancy protection period so that it applies:

  • for pregnant employees from the point they inform the University that they are pregnant;
  • for employees returning from maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave, until 18 months after the expected week of childbirth, date of the child's birth, or date of the adoption placement;
  • in the event of a miscarriage, the period extends until two weeks after the end of the pregnancy.

During the protected period, these employees will be offered suitable alternative employment before other employees affected by redundancy and who do not fall into these categories.

Managers should seek advice from their HR Adviser when a member of staff that falls into this category is facing redundancy, including the ending of a fixed-term contract.