The Children and Families Act 2014 received Royal Assent last week and will introduce several employment law changes for working parents:

  1. Currently, a flexible working request can be made by eligible employees in relation to a child under 17 years old, or 18 years old if the child is disabled. The right to request flexible working is to be extended to all employees with 26 weeks' service and is expected to come into force from 30 June 2014.
  2. A new right for employees and qualifying agency workers to take unpaid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to up to two ante-natal appointments if they are either her husband, civil partner, partner (including same sex), the father or parent of the child, or, under certain conditions, the intended parents in a surrogacy situation. This is expected to come into force from 1 October 2014.
  3. Parents are entitled to share parental leave. If a woman chooses to return to work and bring her period of statutory maternity leave to an early end, she can transfer the remainder to an eligible partner. The first two weeks of maternity leave is compulsory, but apart from that the mother could [theoretically] transfer up to 50 weeks of leave, including 37 weeks with statutory maternity pay or allowance, to her partner. This is expected to come into force in respect of babies due on or after 5 April 2015.