Last month, the government announced plans to boost protection against redundancy for new mothers returning to work and pregnant women by extending it a further six months.
This would provide them with up to two years of legal protection against redundancy.
The decision, though not finalised, is being strongly considered after it was revealed that new parents continue to face unfair discrimination when they return to work.
Research estimates that up to 54,000 women a year felt that they had to leave their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity discrimination.
The reform will provide pregnant women and new parents with extended protection and peace of mind with the aim to reduce discrimination in the workplace, regardless of gender and circumstance.
The announcement follows a number of measures being put in place to support working parents, including neonatal leave.
Neonatal Leave and Pay does not currently exist under UK law and , instead, parents have to rely on their statutory leave entitlements to enable them time off work while their baby is in hospital.
The introduction of neonatal leave would allow parents of newborn babies who are put into neonatal care, to get one week of paid leave for every week their baby is in hospital. The intention is to give parents more time at home with their newborns and ease any further stress during, what is already, a difficult time.
Theresa May, who has launched this consultation on parental leave, said about the plans, “parents have more than enough on their plates without worrying about their parental leave running out and having to return to work before their precious newborn comes home.”
“It is clear that we need to do more and that’s why today we have launched a consultation calling for views on how we can improve the current system.”
The current plan is that a couple of requirements would need to be fulfilled to qualify for neonatal pay.
The parents’ average earnings over a prescribed reference period above the ‘Lower Earnings Limit’ set by the government and be continuously employed by the employer who is liable to pay the neonatal pay until the baby’s birth, and you need at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with the employer at the 15th week before the baby is due.
Neonatal pay would be at a statutory flat rate that applies to other types of parental leave, which is currently £148.68.
The consultation on parental leave will also look at requiring firms to publish their leave pay and flexible working policies.
Current parental leave laws in the UK:
- Mothers are entitled to up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave
- The first six weeks are paid at 90% of their average weekly earnings and the remaining weeks at £149 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (if lower)
- Fathers can take two weeks’ statutory paternity leave at £149 a week
If you would like further information regarding maternity leave and pay or parental leave, then our HR consultants are on hand to help by providing professional support and advice to businesses and employers. Call us today on 0845 2626 260 to learn more