Enhanced redundancy protection for employees on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave
On 21 October 2022, the government announced that it is backing the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill (Bill). This announcement follows on from the January 2019 consultation from BEIS titled ‘Pregnancy and maternity discrimination: extending redundancy protection for women and new parents’. The outcome of the consultation can be found here.
Currently, the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999/3312 (MAPLE) provides redundancy protection during periods of maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave. For example, if a redundancy situation arises whilst an employee is on maternity leave and “it is not practicable by reason of redundancy” for the employer to continue to employ her, she is entitled to be offered a suitable alternative role (if available).
Whilst full details of the proposed legislation and the redundancy protection awarded is yet to be finalised, from reading the announcement it is likely that the proposed legislation will be in line with the consultation outcome. The government’s response to the consultation was a recommendation to extend the redundancy protection period for 6 months once an employee on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave has returned to work.
The announcement states that the intention of the Bill is that it “will apply the MAPLE protections through an expanded period covering from when a woman tells her employer she is pregnant until 18 months after the birth. The 18-month window ensures that a mother returning from a year of maternity leave can receive 6 months additional redundancy protection. The 18-month window will also apply to Maternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave.”
More details to follow as and when they are announced.