Equality and Human Rights Commission updates pregnancy and maternity toolkit

pregnancy and maternity toolkit The Equality and Human Rights Commission has updated its toolkit to provide employers with advice on how to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace.

The updated guidance now reflects changes to the law that have come into effect as of this month.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 introduces extended protection and the Maternity, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 amends the Employment Rights Act 1996 to bring that protection into force. In addition, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 introduces reforms to the flexible working regime and the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 brings those changes into force.

The toolkit provides guidance on action employers must take before, during and after their staff take maternity leave, to ensure they are protected from discrimination. It states that employers should review the advice and ensure their policies are fully compliant with the law.

Changes that employers will be required to make includes extending protection from redundancy to include pregnant women and those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave, and offering suitable alternative employment to pregnant women and those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave in a redundancy situation, including having priority over other employees regarding alternative roles.

They will also need to provide the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment, and increase flexibility in how paternity leave can be taken.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “As Britain’s equality watchdog, we have a duty to explain the law around pregnancy and maternity rights to employers, employees and the public. An employer understanding their legal duties is the foundation of equality in the workplace. Our revised toolkit explains those legal obligations and provides employers with practical advice on how they can best support pregnant women at work and ensure those staff taking parental leave are not discriminated against.”