Changes to Flexible Working, Paternity Leave and Redundancy Protection 

Amongst the various changes coming into effect on 6 April 2024 are amendments to the flexible working regime, Paternity Leave rights and redundancy protection following certain forms of family leave.

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From 6 April 2024, the right to request flexible working will become available from “day one” of employment, rather than only arising after employees have accrued 26 weeks of qualifying service.

In addition, two flexible working applications may be made each year rather than just one.  These changes are likely to significantly increase applications. Although employees will still need to identify that they are making a flexible working application by specifying the changes desired and proposing date for the changes to take effect, they will no longer need to explain the proposed effect of the changes or propose solutions. This simplifies the application process significantly.

Employers must discuss an application before it can be refused. There remain prescribed reasons, one or more of which must be used if the application is to be refused.  It continues to be important that employers not only consider if the reasons genuinely apply, but that they also ensure refusal does not amount to unlawful discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

The process of considering an application needs to be completed within 2 months unless an extension is agreed – employers had three months previously.

Paternity Leave changes affect births or adoptions on or after 6 April 2024. These important changes create much greater flexibility for those wishing to take this leave. Qualifying employees are still entitled to take up to two weeks of Paternity Leave, but this may now be taken in two separate one-week blocks rather than the whole of the leave having to be taken at one time.

The paternity leave may also now be taken during the first year following the birth or adoption rather than being confined to the first 56 days. In addition, there are technical changes to the notification periods and so these should be checked.

Finally, redundancy protection is extended for those employees who are taking, or have taken, Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave.

Prior to 6 April 2024, there is special protection whilst taking these forms of leave that means an employee is entitled to any suitable alternative vacancy in preference to other employees if their role becomes redundant whilst they are taking these forms of leave. This protection continues, but the period of protection has been extended. For pregnant employees, the protection will now begin once they have notified their employer of the pregnancy. In addition, for employees taking Maternity Leave and for those taking Adoption Leave, the protection will continue for a period of 18 months after returning from leave, with protection for a similar period for some employees returning from Shared Parental Leave.

Our expert solicitors can help provide guidance on navigating the changes to flexible working, Paternity Leave, and redundancy protection. If you have any questions or are seeking tailored advice and support in the evolving workplace, please contact our specialist Employment Law team, who have the knowledge and experience to advise you. 

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Amongst the various changes coming into effect on 6 April 2024 are amendments to the flexible working regime, Paternity Leave rights and redundancy protection following certain forms of family leave.

Changes to Flexible Working, Paternity Leave and Redundancy Protection 

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