Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
What does the law say at the moment?
Currently, if an employee is on relevant leave and a redundancy situation arises then the employer is required to offer the employee a suitable alternative vacancy in priority to other potentially redundant employees if there is one available.
By relevant leave, we mean employees who are on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.
What are the key amendments?
The regulations are set to extend the existing redundancy protection to pregnant women and new parents who have recently returned from a period of maternity or adoption leave, or from a period of shared parental leave which lasted six weeks or more.
During pregnancy, the protection will start when the employee tells their employer about the pregnancy, and it will continue during statutory maternity leave as it does currently. If the employee is not entitled to statutory maternity leave, the protection ends two weeks after the end of the pregnancy.
For new parents, the extended protection applies as follows:
- For maternity leave – the extended protection will cover 18 months from the first day of the estimated week of childbirth or, provided the employer is informed, the date of birth of the child.
- For adoption leave – the extended protection will cover 18 months from the placement for adoption.
- For shared parental leave – the protected period covers 18 months from birth but will not apply if the employee is protected under the first or second options.
When will they come in to force?
The changes to the regulations are set to come into force on 6 April 2024.
Key points to note
- The protection from redundancy during pregnancy begins as soon as an employee tells their employer they are pregnant.
- If the employee is not entitled to statutory maternity leave then the protected period ends two weeks after the pregnancy ends.
- The protection during relevant leave will last for 18 months from the date of birth/adoption placement in most cases, and it will continue even if the employee returns to work.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re an employer then you need to be aware of the risk of potential claims if you don’t offer alternative employment (where available) for those employees who are protected. If not, then the mistake could be costly.
If you’re an employee, please be aware of the protections you are entitled to as well as ensuring your employer is told about your pregnancy at an appropriate time – as if they are unaware of it, you may not benefit from the protection.