Extending redundancy protection for women and new parents
Expectant employees will receive greater protection from redundancy during pregnancy and new parents will have extended protections when they return from maternity, adoption and shared parental leave.
It was originally thought that these changes would be contained in an Employment Bill. However the government instead decided to support a Private Members’ Bill – and the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 received the Royal Assent on 24 May 2023.
The Act (which applies in England, Wales and Scotland), comes into force on 24 July 2023. However, the new entitlements will not apply until the Secretary of State makes new regulations providing for the changes and this timing is currently unknown.
Currently, employers have a legal obligation to offer suitable alternative employment, where a vacancy exists, to a parent who is on maternity leave (and shared parental or adoption leave) if their job is at risk of redundancy (reg. 10 of the Maternity and Paternity Leave Regulations 1999). This is limited to the duration of the relevant leave.
- ensure the redundancy protection period applies from the point the employee informs the employer that she is pregnant, whether orally or in writing
- extend the redundancy protection period for 6 months once a new mother has returned to work (with the expectation that this period will start immediately once maternity leave is finished, notwithstanding any additional leave which may immediately follow)
- extend redundancy protection into a period of return to work for those taking adoption and shared parental leave following the same approach as the extended protection being provided for those returning from maternity leave – it will be for 6 months