Before making a woman on maternity leave redundant, her employer must offer her a suitable alternative vacancy where one is available either with the employer or an associated employer. People taking adoption and shared parental leave are protected in a similar way. The government has been consulting on whether to expand this protection.
The UK government has now said that it will change the law “when Parliamentary time allows” so that redundancy protection applies from the point when a woman notifies her employer of her pregnancy, whether verbally or in writing, to six months after the end of the maternity leave (notwithstanding any additional leave she may add on to the end of the maternity leave). For those on adoption leave, the period will be extended to six months after the end of adoption leave.
The UK government will consult further over the coming months on how to provide a period of extended redundancy protection for those returning from shared parental leave (SPL). Given that some people may take SPL for only a few weeks, the government considers that it would be disproportionate for people in those circumstances to benefit from redundancy protection for six months after returning to work.
The government will also establish a taskforce of employer and family representative groups to make recommendations on what improvements can be made to the information available to employers and families on pregnancy and maternity discrimination. It will also develop an action plan on what steps can be taken to facilitate pregnant women and new mothers staying in work.
What should HR do next?
- Look out for new legislation and, in particular, any further announcements regarding how SPL will be impacted
- Review and change policies to comply with any new law.