Extension to Redundancy Protection
Pregnant employees and those returning from family leave to be given priority status in redundancy situations from April 2024
What does this mean?
From 6 April 2024, employees who are pregnant or returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave will all have the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, if one is available, before being made redundant. This gives these employees priority access to redeployment opportunities over other redundant employees.
When does this priority status apply to pregnant women?
Protection under the new legislation begins when the employer has been notified of pregnancy and 18 months from the child’s date of birth if notified to employer before the end of maternity leave (or 18 months from the Expected Week of Childbirth if not notified).
For women who suffer a miscarriage, the protection ends two weeks after the end of the pregnancy, for pregnancies ending before 24 weeks (as pregnancies ending after 24 weeks are classed as stillbirths and the employee would be entitled to statutory maternity leave).
What about employees who adopt?
The protection begins at the beginning of adoption leave and ends 18 months from date of placement or date of entry into Great Britain (if overseas adoption).
Is it the same for shared parental leave (SPL)?
A parent needs to take only a minimum of 6 weeks’ consecutive shared parental leave before becoming eligible for 18 months of protection.
How does this affect your business?
You’ll need to bear the above in mind for any restructures taking place after April 2024. There will now be more employees who are potentially going to be given priority status, which may mean you’ll need to carry out a selection process amongst priority status employees at risk of redundancy where there aren’t enough vacancies. Careful consideration will need to be applied here to prevent claims of discrimination.
You may also see a take up of SPL because of the additional protections the employee will benefit from.
It’s important to comply with the law as an employee that isn’t offered a suitable alternative vacancy when they have priority status would have a claim for an automatic unfair dismissal, which would mean a compensatory award that is not capped. There’s also no requirement to have two years’ service to qualify for this type of claim. The employee may also have a claim for discrimination. Given the significant penalties, employers will need to exercise extreme caution and it’s strongly recommended to take legal advice before making redundancies.
Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024
What are the key take away points from the new Carer’s Leave Regulations?
An employee will be entitled to take one week of unpaid carer’s leave in any 12 month period, where they have a dependant with a long-term care need and want to be absent from work to provide or arrange care for the dependant.
- Importantly, the right will be a Day one employment right.
- Employees will have the option to take the carer’s leave on consecutive days, non-consecutive days, half days or full days.
- Employees must give written notice of their intention to take carer’s leave, confirming their entitlement to take it. The notice requirement will be at least twice as many days as the period of leave requested.
- Employers will have a right to postpone a request if they reasonably consider that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted. The employer must give notice of the postponement before the leave was due to begin and must explain why the postponement is necessary. The employer must then permit the employee to take carer’s leave (of the same duration) on a date determined by the employer after consulting with the employee, which must be within one month of the start date of the leave originally requested by the employee.
- Employees will be protected from detriment and dismissal because they choose to take, or seek to take, carer’s leave (or the employer believes they are likely to do so).