Children and Families Act receives Royal Assent

Parliament House LondonThe Children and Families Act today received Royal Assent, meaning proposals to extend flexible working and allow parents to share parental leave will go ahead.

The Act’s provisions to help people better balance their work and home life include:

  • Extending the right to request flexible working to all employees from 30 June 2014
  • Replacing the current statutory procedure, through which employers consider flexible working requests, with a duty on employers to consider with requests in a ‘reasonable’ manner
  • From April 2015, mothers, fathers and adopters can opt to share parental leave around their child’s birth or placement. This gives families more choice over taking leave in the first year – dads and mothers’ partners can take up to a year, or parents can take several months at the same time
  • From 1 October 2014, prospective fathers or a mother’s partner can take time off to attend up to 2 antenatal appointments
  • Adoption leave and pay will reflect entitlements available to birth parents from April 2015 – no qualifying period for leave; enhanced pay to 90% of salary for the first 6 weeks; and time off to attend introductory appointments. Intended parents in surrogacy and ‘foster to adopt’ arrangements will also qualify for adoption leave and pay

Jenny Willott, employment relations minister, said: “Current workplace arrangements have not kept up with the times. The Children and Families Act will bring the way new parents balance their working and home lives into the 21st century.

By enabling any employee to request to work flexibly, we want to remove any cultural assumption that flexible working is only for women, or just for parents and carers. We want these reforms to bring about a culture change in Britain’s workplaces, allowing everyone to better balance work with their personal life in the way that works for them.”

She added: “The new system is good for business as it will create a more motivated and flexible, talented workforce. Employers will be able to attract and retain women – from the boardroom to the shop floor – and prevent them from dropping out of the world of work once they start a family. Flexible working will also help widen the pool of talent in the labour market, helping to drive growth.”

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