The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 was signed into law on 4th April last, with the provisions to take effect upon Commencement Orders as signed by the Minister. The new rights under the Act include:
- A right for parents of under 12s and carers to request flexible working;
- A right to five days leave each year (unpaid) for personal care for serious medical reasons for parents or family carers;
- A right to request remote working;
- A right to five paid days leave each year for victims of domestic violence;
- An extension of the right to paid breastfeeding breaks from six months to two years.
The right to paid breastfeeding breaks for two years and the right to unpaid leave for medical caring purposes will commence from 3rd July 2023.
This comes as welcome news to Fitzsimons Redmond LLP, which has been campaigning for such change to breastfeeding accommodations for a number of years. It is one very simple step in ensuring equality for working mothers.
The enhanced right allows mothers to have a realistic choice to continue breastfeeding upon their return to work after maternity leave, and has a minimal impact on most employers. Employers currently need to accommodate breastfeeding workers until their child is 26 weeks of age; the changes require only minimal changes to policies and procedures.
The right to leave for medical care purposes allows parents time off to care for sick children or family members; childcare during illness has certainly proved a difficulty for many parents to date. It will operate similarly to unpaid sick leave, where a worker will be expected to notify the employer, as soon as reasonably practicable.
Employers will need to ensure that that the appropriate people are trained and aware of the new rights, and that policies and handbooks are updated appropriately.
The additional rights under the acted are expected to commence in autumn.
The above is provided for information purposes and is not intended as legal advice. We, at Fitzsimons Redmond LLP, would be happy to talk to you about your employment law compliance. Please contact us on 01-676 3257.
By Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty
Partner at Fitzsimons Redmond LLP