The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

The current law provides additional protection from redundancy for employees on maternity, shared parental, or adoption leave. Where there is a redundancy situation, these employees are given priority access to alternative posts, if available – this priority is over other employees, so giving these protected employees first refusal on alternative roles. Where an employer fails to make this offer, protected employees have a right to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

 The new Act offers additional protections:

1. Pregnant employees who are at risk of redundancy will have priority for any suitable alternative vacancy that is available from the point that they notify the employer of their pregnancy.

2. Employees returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave who are at risk of redundancy will have priority for any suitable alternative vacancy that is available following their return to work. Employees returning from maternity or adoption likely leave will be protected for six months after their return to work, but the protected period may be different for shared parental leave, given that it may be taken in discontinuous blocks.

3. Employees will have the right to an automatic unfair dismissal claim where an employer fails to comply with its obligations regarding offering suitable alternative vacancies and the employee is dismissed.

 

Twenty-Four Months
In practice, this will mean that pregnant employees will be entitled to a total of 24 months protection – if an employee notifies the employer of their pregnancy at the 3-month stage and takes 12 months of maternity leave. This works out as follows:

1. Six months’ protection during pregnancy, plus

2. Twelve months’ protection during maternity leave, plus 

3. Six months’ protection on their return to work.

 

Additional Regulations
The new Act will come into force on 24th July 2023. However, guidance regarding the implementation of the Act will be issued using further regulations. Unfortunately, there will be a delay in the regulations being released – they are expected before April 2024. So the Act will come into force in July 2023, but the implementation will be delayed until 2024.

In the meantime, employers should be aware of the new Act but wait for the Regulations before implementing the Act.