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UCU welcomes new parental and adult care rights

2 October 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

UCU has welcomed improvements to maternity and adoption pay and leave, introduced on 1 October, and new rights to flexible working for some employees who provide care for adults, which will apply from April 2007..

From this week, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) will be extended from 26 to 39 weeks for women expecting babies - or the adoption of a child - due after 1 April 2007.

And from 6 April 2007 carers of qualifying adults will be able to request flexible working. This right currently only applies to parents of children under 6 years old. The changes are consequences of the new Work and Families Act 2006.

UCU senior equality official, Kate Heasman, said today: 'We welcome these changes which will benefit substantial numbers of college and university staff in the coming years. These are significant improvements - not only for mothers and fathers but for many with caring responsibilities. We also look forward to the proposed improvements in paternity rights, flagged up in the Act and due to be introduced by regulations at a later date.'

Roger Kline, head of equality and employment rights at UCU said: 'The introduction of rights to flexible working for carers of certain adults is an important breakthrough. With life expectancy increasing, greater numbers of employees will find themselves with caring responsibilities for partners or elderly parents and in need of more flexible working arrangements. Too few are eligible but this lays the foundation for winning support for a wider range of carers.

'UCU is currently investigating how many of our members are caring for adults and we'll be raising this issue with the national employers' bodies in higher education and further education.

'We expect employers across education to recognise that legal rights to more flexible working are an opportunity to improve staff morale and retain staff.'