Protection from Redundancy
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill: A Bill to make provision about protection from redundancy during or after pregnancy or after periods of maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave.
On 3 February 2023, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill passed successfully through the House of Commons. The key purpose of the Bill is to further protect pregnant women and new parents against being made redundant. It is now one step closer to becoming law and therefore important to be on the radar for employers.
If the Bill is eventually passed and becomes law, the legislation will be extended to apply redundancy protection to include pregnant women and new workers.
At the moment, only employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave have the benefit of what is often called ‘additional redundancy protection’. This additional redundancy protection is that (broadly speaking) if their role is at risk of redundancy, they must be offered a suitable vacancy where one exists.
This protection will now include pregnant women and new parents. It will begin when the employee discloses the fact that they are pregnant and will continue until the child is 18 months old. This means that if an employee takes the full 52-week maternity leave, they will continue to be protected against redundancy for a further 26 weeks following their return to work.
The aim of the change is to try and reduce women being ‘pushed out’ of the workplace because they are either i) pregnant, or ii) have just recently had a baby. These two categories do not currently have the benefit of the additional protection from redundancy. The Government believes this should help shield new parents and expectant mothers from workplace discrimination and offer them greater job security at a very important time in their lives.
Here’s a quick reminder of the key legal rights of pregnant workers:
- All workers are protected against discrimination because of pregnancy or childbirth;
- It is discriminatory to dismiss or treat unfairly because a mother-to-be or new parent has taken maternity leave or exercised any of their maternity rights at work;
- Workers have the same rights whether they are full-time, part-time, term-time only, fixed-term, temporary or an apprentice;
- Paid time off for antenatal care (this is not just medical appointments – it can also include antenatal or parenting classes if they’ve been recommended by a doctor or midwife);
- Maternity leave – an employee must take a minimum of two weeks off (compulsory leave) after the baby is born – or 4 weeks if they work in a factory; and
- Maternity pay or maternity allowance.
This is not intended to be a full list of rights and simply indicative of the legal protection and rights of pregnant workers.
You can access further information on the Bill’s route through Parliament here: Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill – Parliamentary Bills – UK Parliament
Laura Kelleher, Solicitor