A guide to extended redundancy protection for women and new parents

Following the passing of the Protection from Redundancy Act 2023, further legislation came into effect from April 2024 to extend protection for women and new parents from redundancy. Employers should be aware of updates they need to make to their policies.

author

Bobby Ahmed

Managing Director Bobby is a highly experienced Employment Law Solicitor and the Managing Director at Neathouse Partners. He has a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of Employment Law & HR, with a particular specialism in TUPE and redundancy.

Date

03 June 2024

Updated

11 July 2024
2 min read
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A guide to extended redundancy protection for women and new parents
3:45

As of April 6, 2024, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will be in effect, offering stronger protections against redundancy for new and expectant parents.

Tackling parental workplace discrimination


Pregnancy and maternity are protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Despite this, some employers still treat expectant and new parents poorly. Government research that informed the new Protection from Redundancy Act revealed that 77% of mothers experienced negative or potentially discriminatory behaviours from their employers during either their pregnancy, maternity leave, or upon returning to work. Around one in 20 mothers faced redundancy during their pregnancy or maternity leave, with 1% being forced into the situation, and not given alternative positions.

Parents on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave (SPL) are protected from redundancy during their leave. Employers must offer a suitable alternative job if redundancy is a possibility. This alternative job must align with their skill-set, and be similar to the role they worked in previously. If employers don't do this, it can be considered unfair dismissal and discrimination. The new legislation extends protection against this happening for new parents.

Better protections


The new protections against redundancy begin when an expectant mother informs her employer of her pregnancy. This protection lasts until the end of her statutory maternity leave, or two weeks after the end of her pregnancy if no statutory leave is taken.

The legislation doesn't completely prohibit employers from making affected employees redundant. Instead, it emphasises prioritising redeployment opportunities within an extended protected period, which varies depending on the circumstances as outlined below.

Expectant mothers


The protected period starts when the employer is informed of the pregnancy, and ends 18 months after the birth if the birth date is communicated before maternity leave ends.

Adoption leave


The protected period lasts 18 months after the child’s placement (or entry into the UK for overseas adoptions).

Miscarriage


The protection lasts two weeks after the pregnancy ends if it was less than 24 weeks, or for the entire statutory maternity leave period if longer.

Shared parental leave (SPL)

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If SPL is less than six weeks, protection lasts until the leave ends. If SPL exceeds six weeks, protection extends to 18 months after the child's birth.

What should employers do?


To comply with the new rules, HR teams must be aware of the changes and ensure that managers and staff have additional training or guidance so they can best support workers. The new legislation poses significant risks for businesses, and workers can bring claims against employers who breach the new Act. It's therefore very important that employers predict when the protections will apply, and consider suitable alternative roles for those workers. Failure to comply could result in automatic unfair dismissal rulings at employment tribunals, leading to uncapped compensation without the need for two years’ qualifying service.

 

Make sure your business complies with the Protection from Redundancy Act 2023

Our professionals at Neathouse Partners can help you to stay compliant with the law and update any policies, contracts and handbooks, while also providing advice on training staff. Speak to us today about how we can help.

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