Fresh Redundancy Protection for Pregnant Staff and New Parents

Previously, those on relevant family leave were entitled to redundancy protection. However, April 2024 marks a vital change in the legislation, fortifying this protection for pregnant women and new parents. This article analyses how the law has transformed and the steps employers must take to remain compliant.

If you have questions or believe your employer isn’t following the redundancy protection changes, contact Redmans Solicitors now. We are employment law specialists and can assess your circumstances before advising you on your possible next steps. Begin your journey with us today by:

Exploring Enhanced Protection From Redundancy

Before 6 April 2024, employees only had redundancy protection during their maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave. This protection required employers to prioritise eligible individuals over their colleagues by offering them suitable alternative vacancies first during redundancies.

However, from 6 April, new rules under the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 apply. As such, employees are now protected from redundancy from the moment they inform their employer of pregnancy until 18 months after childbirth.

Should an employee suffer a miscarriage within the first 24 weeks, they would have the same protection until two weeks after their pregnancy ended. As for those adopting, the protection would commence at the beginning of the adoption leave. This would then cease 18 months from the date of placement or entry into Great Britain.

The enhanced redundancy protection is monumental as it protects a significant number of women from being unfairly dismissed just because they’re pregnant. Labour MP Dan Jarvis echoed this, highlighting his motivations for initiating the Bill that caused this legislation change.

HR’s Guide to Navigating New Redundancy Protection Measures

Employers must familiarise themselves with the new redundancy protection legislation to remain legally compliant. If an employer is considering restructuring or initiating a redundancy process, they must proceed cautiously.

The new protection will apply to pregnancies that the employer is informed of on or after 6th April. It will also apply to those on adoption or maternity leave that ends on or after the same. Those who gave notice of their pregnancy before this date will still be protected, but they should re-notify their employer.

Since the protection has been extended, more employees could be eligible. If women inform their employer of pregnancy after 12 weeks, they will have two years of redundancy protection. Men taking adequate shared parental leave could also have protection for 18 months.

In such circumstances, employers may have more employees with priority for roles than they have suitable alternative vacancies. Here, the employer would have to choose the most suitable of the priority employees based on several factors, including competency.

Following the correct process is essential because failure to do so could lead to automatic unfair dismissal. If this were to happen, the employee could be awarded an uncapped compensatory amount.

As such, employers must understand who’s protected, what qualifies as a ‘suitable alternative vacancy’ and how to distinguish between those with priority. To keep track of those who are currently protected, employers should monitor who is and for how long they are. Moreover, they should improve how they identify suitable roles to ensure adequate vacancies are offered. Finally, they must invest in fair methods to ensure the right individuals are selected for them.

Understanding Employee Rights: Compensation Claims

With the new redundancy protection rules now in place, employees should ensure their rights aren’t being compromised. If employees are made redundant and believe their employer isn’t adhering to their new legal obligations, they should first speak with them. It could be that the employer is unaware of the legislation changes and swiftly corrects their error.

However, if the employer fails to act, the employee should formally appeal against the decision in writing. At such time, the employer will likely take the matter more seriously, as they want to avoid litigation.

That being said, the employer could persist with their decision. If this is the case, the employee may want to make an unfair dismissal claim. Among other things, the employee would need to show that there was a suitable alternative vacancy available and that their employer didn’t prioritise them for it.

We hope this article has enlightened you about the new redundancy protection legislation. Contact us today if you have any further questions or believe your employer has breached your rights. Redmans Solicitors are experts in the employment law sector and can advise you on the eligibility of your case.

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