On 11 December 2023 the draft Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 were laid.
The changes arising from these regulations are set to come into force on 6 April 2024. The regulations will have effect where the employee’s statutory leave period ends on or after 6 April 2024.
What does this look like?
If an employee’s role is at risk of redundancy during their maternity leave and it is not practicable for the employer to continue to employ her under her existing contract, the employee is entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy.
The protected period was during their maternity leave however the regulations introduce additional protected periods which will mean:
- Redundancy protection will start from when the employee informs their employer of their pregnancy. The protected period for pregnancy will end either when statutory maternity leave ends or if the employee is not entitled to statutory maternity leave, twos weeks after the end of pregnancy.
- The additional protected period will end 18 months after the expected week of childbirth or 18 months after the date of their child’s birth if they informed their employer of that date.
- For adoption leave the additional protected period will end 18 months after the child’s placement.
- For employees taking six or more consecutive weeks of shared parental leave and not take maternity or adoption leave, the additional protected period will end 18 months after the date of the child’s birth or placement.
What should employers do?
If an employer is considering restructuring, they will need to take into account the extended protections for pregnancy employees assessing any risks that may arise.
This protection is only if there is a suitable alternative role available. There is also no legal authority if an employer has more protected employees than suitable alternative roles. In these circumstances it may be that the employer will need to carry out an additional selection exercise for those protected employees.
It will be important for employers to ensure they have accurate and up to date records of pregnancy notifications to calculate the protected periods, and ensuring managers are recording any verbal notifications.
Further, redundancy policies and procedures will need to be reviewed and amended to ensure they are compliant with the regulations.
Need more information?
For more information on these changes or assistance with updating your policies or contracts, you can contact our Employment Client Services team on email@example.com or call on 0344 2640102.