Business Insights: Strengthened Redundancy Protections in 2023**

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, often referred to simply as the “Act”, was established on 24 July 2023.

This groundbreaking legislation strengthens job security measures for pregnant employees and those coming back from family leave.

To help employers prepare, we have broken down what businesses need to know about the recent Act:

Key Takeaways from the Act:

  1. The Act mandates further regulations for comprehensive implementation.
  2. A “protected period” during and potentially after pregnancy will be clarified in upcoming regulations.
  3. During this shielded span, businesses may need to consider offering different roles to affected employees.
  4. Not complying with the Act might result in a dismissal being labelled as “unfair”.

Furthermore, the Act amends parts of the Employment Rights Act 1996, enhancing job security during or after maternity, adoption, and shared parental leaves.

There’s an ongoing discussion about extending the “protected period” from the moment an employee announces their pregnancy up to six months after returning from maternity leave.

Final decisions regarding this proposal will come with subsequent regulatory updates.

What’s Different Now?

While existing regulations dictate:

  • An employee’s right to return to their previous job (or a comparable one) post maternity, paternity, or shared parental leave.
  • The responsibility of businesses to think about redundancy alternatives, and the instruction by the Employment Rights Act 1996 to provide suitable job alternatives for those on family leaves.

The combination of section 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 and section 99 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 already privileges those on maternity leave.

The standout change emphasises a heightened responsibility for businesses to diligently offer suitable job alternatives to employees during or after such leave if such roles are available.

Details on when these adjustments take effect are yet to be revealed. As such, the business community eagerly awaits more information regarding the specific timelines attached to these enhanced job protection measures.

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