The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill passed its final reading in the House of Commons on 3 February 2023 and is now to be debated in the House of Lords.
The bill would allow for a change in the law to ensure that employers cannot make pregnant women redundant from the date they inform their employer of their pregnancy to the date their child is 18 months old.
Momentum for reform has grown gradually over the last decade following studies such as one conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that revealed that tens of thousands of women every year feel they are being pushed out of work after becoming pregnant. There are also concerns that women who have been subjected to pregnancy or maternity discrimination have been discouraged from pursuing claims in the Employment Tribunal based on time pressure and expense.
The bill’s suggested change would give pregnant women greater protection than they receive under current legislation such as the Maple (Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999). The Maple only goes as far as placing an obligation on employers to offer women on maternity leave a suitable alternative vacancy (if there is one) before proceeding with redundancy.
The government first signalled its intent to take forward proposals to reform the laws on redundancy for pregnant women in July 2019. It then announced its support for the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill specifically in October 2022.
Jack Johnson, employment solicitor, B P Collins comments:
“The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill has government support so it is expected to pass through the House of Lords. The new law would provide pregnant women with greater job security and more confidence that their employers will support them after they have disclosed their pregnancy.
“Other initiatives, such as calls for an extended time limit to bring claims, are now being called for to protect the rights of pregnant women. We look forward to keeping our clients up to date on any further changes and what it could mean for them over the coming months.”