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Changes to redundancy protections for pregnant employees or those returning to work from maternity or adoption leave

View profile for Philip Richardson
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Three in four mothers say they have had a negative or discriminatory experience

From 6th April 2024, employees who are pregnant or returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave will gain priority status for redeployment opportunities in a redundancy situation.

Under the current law, employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave already have special protections including the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, if one is available, before being made redundant.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 extends the priority status to pregnant employees and those who have recently returned from maternity/adoption leave and shared parental leave.

The new legislation extends redundancy rights so they apply:

  • From the point an employee informs their employer they are pregnant
  • Until 18 months after the expected week of childbirth, the child’s birth date, or date of adoption, for employees returning from maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave.

How should businesses prepare for the changes?

If you haven’t already made provisions in preparation for the changes to maternity redundancy protections, it is important to act swiftly.  Business owners should review their policies and procedures to ensure they cover those on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

They should also make sure managers know that the rules apply from the moment an employee informs them of a pregnancy.

In practice, the changes will double the current period of redundancy protection for those on maternity leave from one year to around two years, assuming an employee tells their manager of their pregnancy at around 12 weeks.

With this in mind, employers should consider how this will impact any redundancy pool or redeployment of roles during a restructuring exercise.

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