We are sharing this update from ACCA, our professional body, for the interest of clients and contacts. The content is (c) ACCA

New laws offer greater protection to those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave

Employers considering redundancies must take into account new protections that apply to those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave under new laws from 6 April 2024.

The new laws, in newly-published draft regulations, extend the existing right for employees who are on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave during a redundancy situation to be offered suitable alternative employment in priority over other employees.


The protection will run from when the employee first notifies their employer they are pregnant, provided that date is on or after 6 April 2024. An employee who is not entitled to statutory maternity leave will enjoy the protection for a period starting with the notification and ending two weeks after the pregnancy ends. This gives protection to, for example, employees who miscarry before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Where an employee’s statutory maternity leave ends on or after 6 April 2024, there will be an additional protected period until either:

  • 18 months after the date of childbirth (as notified to the employer, whether before the end of leave or as soon as reasonably practicable)
  • the first day of the expected week of childbirth.


Where an employee’s statutory adoption leave ends on or after 6 April 2024, the additional protected period runs until 18 months after the child’s placement or, if being adopted from abroad, their entry into the UK

Shared parental leave

Where an employee has taken at least six consecutive weeks of shared parental leave starting on or after 6 April 2024, the additional protected period runs until 18 months after the date of the child’s birth or placement.

Note that the 18-month protected periods run from the date of birth or placement, irrespective of the amount of leave the employee has in fact taken.

Employers should review their policies and procedures to identify priority employees, identify suitable vacancies that could be offered to them, and consider how to select from priority employees if there are not enough vacancies for all of them. Employers may also wish to consider how to inform non-priority employees of their priority colleagues’ new rights.

The legislation

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 and associated (currently draft) Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 amend the Employment Rights Act 1996Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 and Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 to extend the period of protection that employees on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave receive in a redundancy situation.

New neonatal laws

Employers are starting to plan for new neonatal laws announced for April 2025.

The government has announced that it intends to introduce a right to statutory, paid neonatal care leave for parents of children who require special neonatal care after their birth.

The proposed paid leave period is up to 12 weeks and will be an additional entitlement, running alongside existing family leave rights such as maternity, paternity and shared parental leave.

While the operative date is yet to be announced employers should monitor new draft legislation for regulations intended to bring in paid neonatal care leave.