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Under new proposed legislation (the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill) pregnant women and new parents will receive greater protection from being made redundant.

How will this affect new parents?

Currently, employers have an obligation to offer a suitable alternative role to employees who are on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave if a position exists over any other employees who are selected for redundancy.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill will extend protection to pregnant women before their maternity leave and after they return to work, as well as protecting new parents when they return to work following shared parental leave or adoption leave.

How long will the protection last?

The government recently issued a press release, which made it clear that the protection will start from the point an employee tells their employer that they are pregnant and will end 18 months from the start of their maternity leave. It is not clear at this point whether a MATB1 form will need to be provided first.  

Can employers still make pregnant woman redundant?

Yes. Redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissing an employee. However, an employer will be required to show that they followed a fair procedure before making an employee redundant.

This will include adopting a fair selection procedure and deciding who is in the pool.

If a pregnant woman is provisionally selected for redundancy, she will have the right to be offered a suitable alternative role, if one exists. They will need to be offered this as a priority over every other employee who is not on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave.

What is suitable alternative employment?

Current legislation says it must be no worse than the woman’s previous job, taking into consideration the location, terms, conditions and status. 

Difficulties could arise if more than one employee in a selection process has the right to be offered a suitable alternative role.  For example, if two or more women in the same team are pregnant or on maternity leave. With the proposed extension to the protection, this is a situation which employers may find themselves in more frequently.

When will the changes come into force?

The Bill is still being considered by the House of Commons before being passed to the House of Lords too. The government will then need to introduce new regulations which will outline the detail.

Speak to our employment law solicitors

If you have been or may be affected by employment law or HR policies relating to pregnancy, our employment experts can help. We work closely with employers and employees to ensure policies are in place that protect the interests of the relevant parties. To speak to our team, please complete our online enquiry form below or by give us a call and a member of the team will be in touch.

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Helen Watson

Helen Watson

Partner | Head of Employment Law

Helen has been Head of the Employment Team at Aaron and Partners LLP for over 16 years and is an experienced Tribunal Advocate, Accredited Mediator and Workplace Investigator. Helen is also a Chartered Director and Executive Boardroom Coach.

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