The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 have been laid before Parliament, extending the period of special protection from redundancy for employees who are on maternity leave, adoption leave or those on shared parental leave. It brings the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 into operation.
Currently, regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 provides that parents on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave should be offered first refusal of any suitable alternative employment which may be available in a redundancy situation.
This protection is, under the Act, extended as follows:
1. For maternity – the protected period will cover pregnancy, alongside 18 months from the first day of the estimated week of childbirth. The protected period can be changed to cover 18 months from the exact date of birth, if the employee gives the employer notice of this date prior to the end of maternity leave.
2. For adoption – the protected period will cover 18 months from placement for adoption.
3. For shared parental leave – the protected period will cover 18 months from birth, provided that the parent has taken a period of at least 6 consecutive weeks of shared parental leave. This protection will not apply if the employee is otherwise protected under 1. or 2. above.
The extension to the protected period to cover pregnancy applies where the employer is informed of the pregnancy on, or after, 6 April 2024.
The extension of the protected period, to cover a period of time after leave has been taken, will apply to any maternity and adoption leave ending on, or after, 6 April 2024. This will also apply to any shared parental leave starting on, or after, 6 April 2024
The Regulations remain draft only at this present time and may be subject to change.