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New employment rights kick in

Newsletter issue – May 2024

Business owners need to be aware of a batch of new laws that have just taken effect covering employees' rights.

There are new protections for pregnant women and new parents facing redundancy.

And workers are also getting more flexibility over where and when they work.

New laws are said to provide greater security for workers by strengthening existing redundancy protections to cover pregnancy and a period of time after parents return to work.

And The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act has also come into force. Employees now have 'the right to request reasonable flexible working from their first day of employment', according to the Government. Requests are, however, subject to business approval. But employers must consult with their employee before rejecting such a request. Two such requests can be submitted each year.

The changes to redundancy rules took effect from 6 April, extending the redundancy-protected period for pregnant employees or anyone taking maternity leave. Previously, women were only protected while on maternity leave.

The new laws also protect workers who have not started maternity leave and notified their employer of their pregnancy before 6 April 2024.  The redundancy-protected timeframe starts when an employee informs their employer about being pregnant and it ends 18 months from the day the baby is born.

Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, said: 'Whether you're a new parent trying to juggle work commitments with a newborn or a pregnant woman balancing the pressures of work and life, or looking after a disabled or elderly family member while working, these new laws will give families greater security and flexibility.'