Redundancy changes for new parents

From 6 April, the law surrounding redundancy for new parents is set to change.

These new regulations aim to enhance protection for those who are pregnant, on shared parental leave, or taking time off for adoption.

But what does this mean for you as an employer?

Existing regulations

Until 5 April 2024, the existing law still stands.

Currently, a ‘protected period’ is in place for people taking maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave.

If an employee who is taking these types of family leave is selected for redundancy, you must give them priority in offering alternative employment over other at-risk employees. This alternative employment should be:

  • Suitable and appropriate
  • Not have terms that are significantly worse than their current role.

If this is available and not offered with priority to the employee who is in a ‘protected period’, the dismissal is automatically classed as unfair.

There may be candidates whom you believe to be more suitable for alternative employment, however, it is vital that you follow the priority order. Otherwise, you could find yourself being taken to an employment tribunal.

If those employees who have priority do not take the job role offered, or you have multiple positions available, you can offer this alternative employment to other staff once agreements have been made.

Expansion of protections

These regulations are set to be expanded from 6 April.

The new law will now include pregnant employees. This means that once an employee has notified their employer that they are pregnant, they will be automatically protected.

There is also an expanded period of protection for those taking maternity, shared parental leave, or adoption leave. From 6 April, they will be protected for 18 months following the expected birth or placement of the child that the leave relates to.

It should also be noted that at least six weeks of shared parental leave must be taken for this extension to apply.

What does this mean for employers?

If you are making redundancies, you must ensure that the correct priorities are given where alternative employment is available.

Those who are responsible for your business’s redundancy consultation must be aware of who has returned from adoption, shared parental leave, and maternity leave and when it was taken.

They will also need to know if there are any pregnant members of staff in the redundancy pool.

Once an agreement has been reached with the prioritised staff members, you should offer any remaining alternative job roles to other members of staff.

Making redundancies is already a tough decision, however, you must ensure that you are compliant to avoid being taken to an employment tribunal.

For help and advice with redundancies, please get in touch with our team today.