Extended redundancy protections for pregnancy and parental leave

Fri 5th Apr 2024
Extended redundancy protections for pregnancy and parental leave

Employment law changes in April will offer increased protection against redundancy for those on parental leave. Currently, in the UK you can be made redundant or dismissed from your job for a number of reasons.

A campaign estimated that in the UK, 7% of employees had lost their job after becoming pregnant through redundancy, sacking or feeling forced to leave. This is the equivalent of 41,752 pregnant employees being sacked or made redundant every year.

Currently, employees on maternity, shared parental or adoption leave have protections against redundancy in the workplace. From April 2024, these will change with the aim of providing better protections for employees.

What are the changes and what do employers need to do? Associate, Steph Marsh, from the Employment team explains…

Parental Leave and Redundancy Protection

Currently, employees taking maternity, shared parental or adoption leave have always been afforded extra protection from redundancy. Most importantly, they have first access and refusal to suitable alternative roles over other employees.

From April 2024, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, will extend priority status to pregnant employees too. These protections will also be extended to those who have recently returned from maternity, shared parental leave, or adoption leave up to 18 months after the birth or placement date.

Pregnancy

As it stands, those who are pregnant do not receive any protection against redundancy. Protections only start once you have taken your parental leave.

However, once the new employment law takes effect from 6 April 2024, pregnancy is now eligible for redundancy protection. If an employer is informed of the pregnancy after this date, the employee will be protected for the entire pregnancy.

If an employee suffers from a miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy, they will have protection during their pregnancy and for a period of two weeks following the miscarriage.

Maternity Leave

Currently, those on maternity leave are protected for the period of their absence. However, the new legislation will extend the redundancy protections. Where maternity leave ends on or after 6 April 2024, employees will be protected for 18 months from the first day of the estimated week of childbirth.

The 18-month protected period can be amended to start from the child’s actual date of birth if the employee informs the employer in writing of the actual birth date.

If an employee suffers a miscarriage or stillbirth after 24 weeks, they are also entitled to maternity leave and will have the same protection as those above. This is the case even if the employer was not made aware of their pregnancy.

Adoption Leave

Employment law currently states that employees are protected from redundancy during a period of adoption leave. After the introduction of this new Act, where adoption leave ends on or after 6 April 2024, employees will be protected for 18 months from the date of placement.

Shared Parental Leave

Currently, those taking a period of parental leave have redundancy protection during the period of shared parental leave. Where shared parental leave starts on or after 6 April 2024, employees will be protected for 18 months from the date of birth or placement of the child. However, that is provided that the employee has taken at least a period of 6 continuous weeks of shared parental leave.

What do employers need to do?

As just one of a handful of employment law changes on the horizon it’s vital employers review redundancy policies to ensure they are in line with the most up-to-date legislation. The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 rules will apply on or after 6 April 2024. This means the new protections will be available for those notifying their employers of their pregnancy on or after this date. They will also apply to maternity or adoption leave that’s coming to an end or where there is a period of six consecutive weeks of shared parental leave starting.

Employment law can be a complex and ever-evolving area, and it’s important for everyone to be kept up to date with their rights and responsibilities. We offer a range of services to give you the best, most up-to-date advice and protect your business.

For redundancy advice, contact Associate Steph Marsh from our Employment team or use the contact form on our website.

Fri 5th Apr 2024

Steph Marsh

Head of Employment

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