2 min read: ARC LEGAL IN THE NEWS… ‘TIS THE SEASON TO RECEIVE CLAIMS ABOUT...
The first strains of Christmas music are in the air and Mariah Carey is...
The problem is exacerbated when a parent is on maternity, paternity, adoption, or shared parental leave when a business goes through a redundancy process. Employees in this situation often feel more vulnerable and there is a risk they could suffer discrimination at this stage.
Currently, the maximum maternity, adoption or shared parental leave is twelve months and special protection is in place for redundancy situations.
These employees must be offered suitable alternative employment where an alternative role is available whilst they are on leave.
However, if they are not offered suitable alternative employment where a role exists and they are subsequently dismissed for redundancy, then they may have an automatic unfair dismissal claim.
Employees have waited a long time for additional protections to be offered to them while they’re on parental leave and several Acts and Bills have come close, but until this week (week commencing 24th July 2023), no stand-alone legislation has been in effect to support these employees.
On 3rd March 2023, the House of Lords considered the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill at second reading. This Bill is a private member’s Bill first introduced in the House of Commons on 15 June 2022 by Labour MP for Barnsley Central, Dan Jarvis, and Conservative member, Baroness Bertin.
The private member’s Bill would allow the secretary of state to make regulations about protection from redundancy during and after pregnancy, and six months after returning from maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave.
After no amendments at the second reading, the Bill progressed to a third reading on 3rd February 2023, to which it received full support from both the Government and MPs from various parties.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 has the potential to significantly enhance the protection of employees who are pregnant, on maternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave.
On the 24th May 2023, the Act received Royal Assent and will come into force on 24th July 2023 however provisions are subject to additional regulations which have not yet been issued, it appears likely that the following changes will apply:
However, it’s uncertain when the additional regulations will be published and currently the full extent of the rights and exemptions in this Act are unclear. For example, regulations clarifying the practical protections regarding shared parental leave, which allows employees to take shared parental leave in separate blocks, will be needed.
The regulations are expected to come into force no earlier than April 2024, but no specific date of publication of the additional regulations has been provided by the Government.
Fundamentally, this Act potentially allows pregnant employees, or those on parental leave, the right to be offered suitable alternative employment in redundancy situations for up to two years. This includes six months of pregnancy, plus twelve months maternity leave, and six months from when they return to work.
For further information on employment matters, especially on maternity leave, Arc Legal has used its expert lawyers to create an Employment Guide which can be used as a reference tool.
To find out more about our products and services, please contact your Relationships Manager or email [email protected].