UK Government confirms Extension of Redundancy Protection for Pregnant Women and New Parents, the Government has confirmed that it will extend protection from redundancy for staff who are on, or have recently returned from, maternity and other family-friendly related leave.
In January 2019, the Government consulted on extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents. The Consultation, which was undertaken following negative findings from the Human Rights Commission, sought views on whether:
- Redundancy protection currently available for maternity leave should be extended to encompass a period of “return to work”;
- Similar protections should be afforded to other groups who take extended periods of leave for similar purposes, such as adoption or shared parental leave; and
- The steps that the Government is taking to increase business and employer awareness of their rights and obligations might be improved to tackle pregnancy discrimination more effectively.
As a result of these lines of enquiry, the Government has pledged to introduce legislation that will ensure redundancy protection applies from the point the employee informs the employer that she is pregnant, whether orally or in writing; and extend the redundancy protection period for six months once a new mother has returned to work. The same principles will be afforded to those taking adoption leave, and consideration is also being given to those who opt for shared parental leave.
In making these changes, the Government state that the key objective will be to help protect pregnant women and new mothers from discrimination. Therefore, the practical and legal differences between shared parental leave and maternity leave must be acknowledged and may require different approaches. A father returning from one week’s shared parental leave should not be in exactly the same position as a mother returning from 12 months’ maternity leave, however the solution should not create any disincentives to take Shared Parental Leave.
The timeline for the introduction of these changes remains open ended, but organisations should nevertheless be aware of them as it is a matter of when and not if.
Next area of review:
The Government also intends to consult on extending the three-month time limit for claims relating to discrimination, harassment and victimisation, including on grounds of pregnancy and maternity.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog, or if you need to seek advise surrounding maternity or redundancy situations.