The government has published a response to its consultation on extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents returning from maternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave.
At the moment, before making a woman on maternity leave redundant, an employer must offer her a suitable alternative vacancy where one is available with the employer or an associated employer. Similar protection exists for those on adoption leave.
This protection is going to be extended:
- It will apply from the point the employee notifies the employer of her pregnancy, whether orally or in writing. The government will also extend the redundancy protection period for six months once a new mother has returned to work.
- For adopters, protection will be in place for six months following a return to work from adoption leave.
- For employees taking shared parental leave the government is currently working out how an extension to protection will operate.
There will be no change to the law regarding paternity leave. The government has concluded that paternity leave does not justify redundancy protection similar to that given to individuals returning from other types of family leave as paternity leave is for a short period only (either one or two weeks).
We don’t yet know when the changes will come into force, but we will keep you up to date with any developments in this area.
In the meantime, if you are proposing to make redundancies in your organisation it’s important to ensure that:
- You have what, in law, would be considered a genuine redundancy situation
- You follow a fair redundancy consultation process
- You fairly select who is to be made redundant
- You do not make an employee redundant because they are pregnant or have taken family leave – this is automatically unfair
- Bear in mind that if an employee is on maternity or adoption leave, there are special rules regarding suitable alternative work
It’s important to seek advice from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd before taking any steps in relation to redundancy. We can give you specific advice on the facts of your case and support and guide you through the process.
If you have any employment law issues you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact us as we are happy to help.