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Government responds to consultation extending parents’ redundancy protection

Earlier this year the Government ran a consultation on how and whether to extend the redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents. It has now published its response.

As a recommendation born out of the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, the response stresses that the government is committed to bringing forward new protection through applicable legislation “when parliamentary time allows”. Alas therefore, this is unlikely to see the light of day until phrases such as “Brexit” and “no-deal” have been ousted from current parliamentary vocabulary. Nevertheless, there is value in knowing, understanding, and preparing for the government’s plans.

The government is committed to bringing forward new protection through applicable legislation “when parliamentary time allows”.

The key responses:

  1. The government will ensure the redundancy protection period will apply from the point the employee informs the employer that she is pregnant, whether orally or in writing. Additionally, there will be an extension of the redundancy protection period to six months once a new mother has returned to work. Crucially employers and employees will have to carefully consider how the oral conversation might be evidenced should its existence be called into question.
  2. The government will also seek to extend the redundancy period for six months following a return to work from adoption leave, promoting parenting parity.
  3. Shared Parental Leave is still a contentious and complicated issue. The government however does propose to extend the redundancy protection period for those returning from shared parental leave, but recognises that there are issues of proportionality. The example given is that it would not be proportionate to offer the same amount of protection to a father returning from one week’s shared parental leave, as they might a mother returning after 12 months’ maternity leave.
  4. After reviewing the responses, the government recognised that information on such parental protection was often sparse and many struggled to find the information. The government admitted that this needed to change, and suggested information should be more readily available at, by way of example, schools and GP surgeries.

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