Protection from Redundancy

From 6 April 2024, employees who are pregnant or returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave will gain priority status for redeployment opportunities in a redundancy situation.

Under the current law, employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave already have special protection in a redundancy situation. They have the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, if one is available, before being made redundant. This gives employees on these types of leave priority access to redeployment opportunities over other redundant employees.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 extends the priority status to pregnant employees and those who have recently returned from maternity/adoption leave and shared parental leave.

Who is now also protected?

In addition to those on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave, the Act extends protection to:

  • A pregnant employee who is in ‘a protected period of pregnancy’
  • An employee who has recently suffered a miscarriage
  • Maternity returners
  • Adoption leave returners
  • Shared parental leave returners

What are the rules around their protection?

1. Pregnant Employee who takes Maternity Leave

Starts when the employer has been notified of pregnancy.

Ends 18 months from the child’s date of birth if notified to employer before the end of maternity leave (or 18 months from the expected week of childbirth if not notified).

2. Employee who has suffered a miscarriage

Starts when the employer has been notified of pregnancy.

Ends two weeks after the end of pregnancy, for pregnancies ending before 24 weeks.

3. Employees taking adoption leave

Starts at the beginning of adoption leave.

Ends 18 months from date of placement or date of entry into Great Britain (if overseas adoption).

4. Employees taking shared parental leave

Starts at the beginning of shared parental leave.

Ends at the end of shared parental leave (if less than 6 weeks of shared parental leave is taken). If more than 6 continuous weeks of shared parental leave is taken, 18 months from child’s date of birth (inclusive of any time spent on statutory leave).

Key considerations

New and expectant mothers will be able to double their period of redundancy protection to a period of about two years (assuming they tell their employer about their pregnancy at 12 weeks, take the full 52 weeks of maternity leave, and are then protected for six months afterwards).

Women may feel they need to inform their employer of their pregnancy as soon as they are aware to protect themselves if there is an impending redundancy exercise, where they may have waited previously until the 12 weeks mark.

As Statutory Parental Leave is available for either parent to use and is becoming increasingly utilised by fathers, for example, by extending the protection from redundancy to include the period of return after such leave, employers will inevitably see a rise in men acquiring protection rights in a redundancy exercise.

It is anticipated that the ramifications of failure to offer a protected employee a suitable alternative vacancy, will permit similar types of claims to be brought to those afforded under the current law, namely automatic unfair dismissal and discrimination. Therefore, failure to prepare and have in place robust training and policies is crucial to minimise the risk of litigation.


The new regulations might be something easily overlooked. However, failure to understand them or the requirements on you as an employer, could put you in a difficult position.

It’s therefore worth investing the time to ensure you have the necessary documentation, processes and procedures in place.

If you would like more information, or help making sure you have everything in order, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.