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Proposed legislation – Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill


The government has announced that it is backing the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill. This is proposed new legislation that would offer pregnant women and new parents greater protection against redundancy.

Current Law on Pregnancy and Family Leave

Currently the law requires an employer to give priority over any suitable alternative vacancy, to an employee who is on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave and whose role is redundant. However, this does not include women who are pregnant but whose maternity leave has not yet commenced, or those whose maternity leave has come to an end.

The government carried out a consultation proposing extending the law to protect expectant and new parents due to an estimated 54,000 women a year feeling pressure to quit their jobs due to discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or maternity. A survey conducted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that one in nine women have been fired, made redundant, or mistreated to the point that they have left their roles, after returning to work following maternity leave.

The Proposed New Protection from Redundancy Bill

The Bill, should it become an Act, would amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 by extending this protection to pregnant women as well as to new parents returning to work from relevant leave. The Bill will give the Business Secretary the power to make regulations regarding redundancy during pregnancy and after a period of relevant leave. The government’s intention is that these regulations will apply protections covering the period from the date the woman informs her employer she is pregnant to 18 months following the birth. As a result, new and expectant parents will have stronger protection from discrimination at work, offering greater job security.

The government is also working with the Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Advisory Board to improve guidance so that employers are more aware of discrimination and can aim to eliminate it.

Given the impending recession and the wave of redundancies we are currently seeing, this legislation will provide some much-needed security for new and expecting parents. It will also benefit employers by improving employee relations and avoiding potential conflict.

The Bill will go through the report stage on 3 February 2023 before being debated by the House of Lords.

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