Future Changes to Employment Law

In June 2022, the government announced that it was backing the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill and the Carers Leave Bill. Both have received their second reading in the House of Commons this week and will be passed as law when parliamentary time allows.

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill

Currently, the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996) allows the Secretary of State to make regulations concerning redundancy “during” periods of maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave. An example of this is regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999, which provides that before making a woman on maternity leave redundant, an employer must offer her a suitable alternative vacancy where one is available with the employer or an associated employer.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill will amend the ERA 1996 to enable the Secretary of State to make regulations providing protection against redundancy both “during or after” an individual taking the relevant leave. It will also add a new provision to the ERA 1996 allowing for regulations about redundancy “during, or after” a “protected period of pregnancy”. While the detail will be provided within the regulations, the explanatory notes to the bill suggest that, by extending protection after a protected period of pregnancy, a woman who has miscarried before informing her employer of her pregnancy will benefit from the redundancy protection.

Carers Leave Bill

The Carers Leave Bill will introduce a new and flexible entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who are providing or arranging care. This includes unpaid carers such as family members who care for friends or family members. The unpaid leave will be available to eligible employees from the first day of their employment and they will be able to take the leave flexibly to suit their caring responsibilities. Employees will not need to provide evidence of how the leave is used or who it will be used for which, it is hoped, should ensure a smooth process. Employees taking carer’s leave entitlement will be subject to the same employment protections that are associated with other forms of family-related leave, meaning they will be protected from dismissal or any detriment as a result of having taken time off.

There are currently a number of other employment-related bills which remain in the parliamentary process, including the long-awaited Employment Bill. However, at this time, there is no information as to when they will be enacted.

Should you have any queries concerning the contents of this update or any other employment related concerns, please contact Sarah Collier, Partner & Head of Employment Law.