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Mon 18 Feb 2019

Government Launches Consultation on Parental Rights: a Step in the Right Direction?

Government Launches Consultation on Parental Rights: a Step in the Right Direction?

Following concerns raised as part of the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices in 2017, the Government is consulting on its plan to extend protection from redundancy for women not only during their maternity leave but for pregnant employees and for up to 6 months following an employee’s return to work after maternity leave.

The current position under the Maternity and Parental Leave, Etc Regulations 1999 is limited to protection during maternity leave only. This means if a woman is selected for redundancy during her maternity leave she is given priority over other redundant employees when it comes to offers of suitable alternative positions.

The proposal is one of a number, including the extension of legal protections for women before, during and after maternity leave to parents returning from adoption or shared parental leave, which are also being consulted on in the next few months. How this would work in practice will need to be carefully considered, as if implemented, this could potentially double the period of protection for women and could lead to strategic use of family leave in order to gain enhanced protection during a redundancy process.

The consultation closes on 5th April 2019. Further details of the consultation can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/pregnancy-and-maternity-discrimination-extending-redundancy-protection-for-women-and-new-parents

WORK-LIFE BALANCE?

In another move towards increased rights and protection for parents and carers, a proposed new EU Directive on work-life balance would provide for an individual right to 4 months parental leave of which 2 months would be paid (currently parental leave is unpaid) and 5 days carers leave every year for individuals caring for a relative with serious medical conditions.

HEALTH WARNING:

It is important that businesses have their say as part of the consultation process to determine for example, at what point a pregnant employee would be protected and whether the additional protection should be extended to employees who have taken shared parental leave. How the additional protection will work in practice and how it will affect businesses will be crucial in order to avoid challenges from employees who may feel that the protection is unfair.

Further, with so much uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit it remains to be seen how this EU Directive if approved would impact the UK, but it certainly shows that the rights of working parents and carers remains on the agenda.

If you have any questions about the current protection for new and expectant mothers, please contact Julie Edmonds, Solicitor, by email jedmonds@jpclaw.co.uk; or telephone 0207 644 7286 or contact her on LinkedIn

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice

 

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