The government has indicated that it will legislate to increase the protection offered to new parents who face redundancy. Legislation will be brought forward “when Parliamentary time allows”. This could be some time.
Currently, employers are obliged in a redundancy situation to give priority to women on maternity leave when it comes to offering alternative employment. Where a woman on maternity leave faces redundancy and there is a suitable alternative vacancy, it must be offered to them before it is offered to other redundancy candidates. Those on adoption leave benefit from similar protection.
The government consulted about whether to extend that protection. The response to that consultation was published on 22 July and is here. The government intends to ensure that protection will apply from the point at which the employee notifies the employer of her pregnancy, whether orally or in writing, and will last until six months after maternity leave has ended. The prospect of protection arising on notification to the employer orally of pregnancy may raise some interesting practical issues for employers, not least ensuring that those in management positions are aware of the importance of passing on oral notification to HR.
Furthermore, the government has indicated it intends to extend this protection to adoptive parents, so that the protection lasts for six months after the ending of adoption leave, and to those returning from shared parental leave. The latter is going to need some further consideration to how it will work in practice, given that SPL can be taken in short periods and blocks of leave.
Paternity leave will not attract any redundancy protection.
If you require further information about anything covered in this blog, please contact Jonathan Eley, or your usual contact at the firm on +44 (0)20 3375 7000.
This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Farrer & Co LLP, July 2019