Looking ahead to 2024: A year of change and uncertainty
Published: 29 Jan 2024
By Kyle Green, Parliamentary and Stakeholder Engagement Manager
For those of us wanting to remove barriers that parents and carers face in the workplace, 2023 was a year of ups and downs. A low point was the Government finally acknowledging it wasn’t going to bring forward the long-awaited Employment Bill. But on a more positive note, the Government supported a range of Private Members’ Bills which furthered the rights of parents and carers.
Working Families put our collaborative values into action and worked with MPs, the Government, and several other organisations and agencies to bring about these changes, working particularly closely with Yasmin Qureshi MP on her Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act and with Stuart McDonald on his Neonatal (Leave and Pay) Act. In both instances, our constructive contribution helped improve the legislation, and in the case of the Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act, Working Families put forward the proposals that form the basis of the reforms.
As a result, more parents and carers will now be able to take paid time off with their sick baby when they need it (though not until 2025), be able to request flexible working from day one in a new job, and be more protected from redundancy when on pregnancy or family leave (e.g. maternity or paternity leave). Also, after many years of work, carers are now legally entitled to five days unpaid leave thanks to the Carers Leave Act. Alongside concrete benefits for parents and carers, Working Families worked hard to raise the profile of issues with other legislation that protect workers rights, such as the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023, and also pushed to keep welfare benefits in line with inflation.
Whilst the legislative changes mark a step forward in removing the barriers parents and carers face in the workplace, their impact is yet to be felt. In the coming year we’ll be able to ascertain what real world difference they are making, and also whether the major political parties are willing to commit to meaningful change in their 2024 local and general election manifestos.
Working Families, alongside its co-creation groups, the Academic Advisory Board and the Families and Work Group, will be working hard to speak to MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates, as well as those standing to become or remain councillors, to keep up the pressure on taking down the remaining workplace barriers through the coming elections.
For those political parties and candidates who are willing to stand up for this ambition and commit to act on it, we expect to see pledge cards or manifesto commitments, and Working Families itself is working on an evidence-based manifesto to stand up for the needs of families. We know that there is still much work to do, but we are spurred on by the achievements we have already made, and hope that you will continue to support our work by donating here.