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New Redundancy Protection for Pregnancy and Return from Family Leave

Employment Law Solicitors

From 6 April 2024, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act comes into force. This extended redundancy protection period means that if an employee’s job is at risk of redundancy, they will have priority status for redeployment and the right to be offered a suitable alternative post, if there is one.

Previously, this special protection in redundancy situations only applied to employees whilst on Maternity Leave, Shared Parental Leave or Adoption Leave.

When this comes into effect, protection begins when a pregnant employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy, and runs for 18 months from the child’s date of birth (or expected date if the employer has not been notified of this).

As well as the redundancy protection period being extended for employees who take Adoption Leave or Shared Parental Leave, the redundancy protection also now applies to employees who have experienced a miscarriage.

In relation to Shared Parental Leave, this protection only applies for employees taking more than 6 weeks of continuous Shared Parental Leave, otherwise, the protected period will end on the last day of their Shared Parental Leave. And it does not apply to staff taking Statutory Paternity Leave.

In relation to miscarriage, which is a baby loss up to 24 weeks, the protected period is limited to a two week period after the end of the pregnancy.

Employers should be aware that failure to offer a priority employee a suitable alternative vacancy may result in a claim for automatic unfair dismissal, as well as a potential discrimination claim. These claims do not require two years of service to qualify and compensation for discrimination is uncapped.

Whilst the protections this bill offers are welcome, it is important to note that it only applies where there is a suitable alternative post during the redundancy protection period.

We still see many pregnant women and women on Maternity Leave when we run our Mind the Bump campaign, unfairly selected for redundancy because their job has disappeared and has been taken over by a number of different people. Hopefully this will put the onus on employers to identify when this happens so they can prioritise suitable alternative roles in the 18 months from the child’s birth.

Also, the uptake for fathers taking Shared Parental Leave has been very low. Now there is added protection this could result in more employees taking this up to get this priority status, particularly where a restructuring exercise is on the cards.

With an increase in employees having this priority status, it is going to be important for employers to adopt systems for identifying suitable vacancies and weighing up a fair selection criteria. This is because there may be a number of employees with priority status who are suitable candidates for any alternative roles.

For expert advice for employers and employees about pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace, contact our Employment Law Team on 01273 609911, or email

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