Over the last few years successive governments have increased existing and introduced new family friendly rights.
When Margaret Attwood wrote The Edible Woman in 1969 woman had very few rights in the workplace. Many were dismissed when they became pregnant and had no legal protection. Since then there have been a number of statutes passed with the result that women who are pregnant or on maternity leave are among the best protected employees in the UK. From the introduction of six weeks’ maternity pay in 1975 to the right to return to work after having a baby in 1981, things have slowly changed and improved for female employees.
From 2002 we have seen a significant increase in rights for families. Most of the rights support employees with young children, but they have been extended to include older children as well as employees caring for adult dependents. The legislation has been strongly supported by case law, in particular the cases decided by the European Court of Justice.
There will be more in the pipeline. Ever since the Coalition Government came to power in 2010 it has indicated that it wants to introduce flexible working for all employers.