This article provides an employment law update on the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill.
In the 2019 Queen’s speech, the government promised enhanced rights to many more workers. This included an extension of protection from redundancy for pregnant employees. At the time, they proposed enhanced protections to a pregnant employee from the date they inform their employer they are pregnant to at least 6 months after they return from maternity leave.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill has finally reached Royal Assent, but what does that mean for employees and employers?
Currently under regulation 10 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, Maternity and Paternity Leave Regulations 1999, employers must prioritise an employee on maternity leave in a redundancy situation. In the case of vacancies existing within the business, employers should offer alternative employment to the parent if they are at risk of redundancy in their current role. As it stands, this enhanced protection is only in place for the employee whilst on maternity leave.
However, once the Bill is passed this proposed enhanced protection will begin when an employee declares their pregnancy to their employer and continue for 18 months after the baby is born. This is much longer than initially suggested in the Queen’s speech. This will offer much-needed comfort to new parents in their return to work following parental leave.
These enhanced protections will also extend to those on shared parental leave and adoption leave.
You can follow the progress of the Bill here:
Whilst the exact date is yet to be determined for when this will be passed as law, employers should start preparing now by updating their redundancy policies and procedures. As well as ensuring they seek appropriate HR advice before proceeding with any redundancies, especially when those at risk may be on maternity or parental leave.
Situations may arise where employers need to pool more than one employee who is on parental, adoption, or maternity leave. Employers will need to ensure that they act reasonably and use fair and transparent selection criteria to avoid unfair dismissal or discrimination claims.
If you require any advice surrounding the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill or help handling redundancies, get in contact with our team of experts today.
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