The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed new legal protections against redundancy for pregnant women and new mothers, extending the duration of redundancy protection to six months from the date of return to work.
The improved redundancy protection, which was announced on Monday 22 July 2019, also covers those employees taking adoption or shared parental leave, to ensure staff are protected from discrimination regardless of gender or circumstance.
The new protections have been introduced as a result of a government consultation, which closed on 5 April 2019 after running for 10 weeks. The consultation received 643 responses and found that new parents continue to encounter unfair workplace discrimination.
Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is illegal in the UK; currently the protected period for staff runs from the start of an individual’s pregnancy until she returns to work from ordinary or additional maternity leave. If not entitled to a form of maternity leave, the protected period operates until two weeks after the end of the pregnancy.
In addition, the government has set up a new taskforce of employers and family groups. The taskforce will develop an action plan on the steps that the government and other organisations can take to make it easier for pregnant women and new mothers to remain in work. It will also offer recommendations on how to raise awareness of employer obligations and employee rights.
These changes form part of the government’s wider action to support working parents, following the publication of the Good Work Plan.
Kelly Tolhurst (pictured), business minister, said: “There is no place for discrimination against new parents in the modern workplace. It is unacceptable that new parents continue to feel they are treated unfairly and the government is determined to put an end to this.
“The reforms announced today will better protect new parents, giving them the peace of mind to manage the return to work while also caring for a new child.”