Employees at risk of redundancy who are on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave enjoy special protection, in that they have an automatic right to be offered any suitable vacancies, if there is one.

However, research by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2019, discovered that 1 in 9 women were fired, forced out of jobs or made redundant when they returned to work after maternity leave, with a further estimate that annually 54,000 women may lose their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity.

To partially address these woeful statistics, new legislation under The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 came into force on 24 July 2023, which in turn spawned the (currently draft) Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 (MASPA Regulations) which should come into force on 6 April 2024.

The MASPA Regulations extends redundancy protection to pregnant women, and for people returning to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave (SPL):

  • Employers must offer a suitable alternative vacant role for 6 months after the date of a return to work for employees returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave
  • The enhanced protected period starts on the date of return to work after  maternity or adoption leave, where that leave ends on or after 6 April
  • For parents taking SPL who haven’t taken maternity or adoption leave, the protected period also extends to 18 months from birth. However, for the extended protection to apply for a period after the SPL has ended, a parent must meet a minimum 6 week threshold of continuous leave.  Where the 6 week threshold is not met, the redundancy protection only applies during the shared parental leave.
  • The new protection also applies to pregnancies notified to an employer on or after 6 April 2024