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New consultation on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents

Employment / 28 January 2019

The Government has published a consultation paper seeking views on extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents.


Currently, under the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999, before making an employee on maternity leave redundant, an employer has an obligation to offer her (not just invite her to apply for) a suitable alternative vacancy, where one is available with the employer (or an associated employer) (the “MPLR Right”).  This gives the woman priority over other employees who are also at risk of redundancy.  The protection applies while the woman is on ordinary or additional maternity leave.

In 2017 an EHRC survey found that around a third of private sector employers agreed that it was reasonable to ask, during the recruitment process, about women’s plans to have children in the future – which highlights the potential for discrimination at an early stage.  Further evidence shows that new mothers are being forced out of work when they seek to return to work after maternity leave.

The Taylor Review concluded in 2017 that legislation in this area is complex and that consolidation is needed across pregnancy, maternity and return to work periods.

The Government is therefore seeking views on whether an extended period of additional protection against redundancy is the best way to address this issue.


The consultation closes on 5 April 2019.


The consultation makes the following main proposals:

  1. To extend the MPLR Right to women who have returned from maternity leave in the previous six months, not just those women who are on maternity leave;
  2. To extend the MPLR Right to women who have told their employer that they are pregnant; and
  3. To extend the MPLR Right to employees on adoption leave, shared parental leave and other periods of parental leave.


There are no immediate steps to take since the proposals are only at the consultation stage.

However, should you wish to respond to the consultation you can do so here.

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