The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) new guidance on preventing workplace discrimination against pregnant women and women on maternity leave

The EHRC has updated its discrimination toolkits to reflect the changes that have recently come into place in April 2024. Employers are not legally bound by the toolkits, but we would suggest that if you follow and apply the guidance set out on how employers should approach pregnant women and women on maternity leave in their workforce, then you won’t go far wrong.
The toolkits now include advice in relation to:

• The new scope of redundancy protection to cover pregnant women, those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave and for a period after they return to work.
• Increasing the importance of offering suitable alternative roles to pregnant women and those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave if they are initially grouped and selected for redundancy.
• The right for all employees to request flexible working arrangements as a ‘first day of employment’ right; and
• Changes to the rules about statutory paternity leave. Please do look at our previous update for more detail, but essentially parents can now take two weeks statutory leave at different times, and they have 52 weeks to take this entitlement.

Please find the below links to the updated toolkits, which you should save and consider when dealing with similar issues with staff:

Pregnancy and maternity: Pregnancy | EHRC (equalityhumanrights.com)

Pregnancy, adoption and maternity: Return to work | EHRC (equalityhumanrights.com)

Maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave and pay | EHRC (equalityhumanrights.com)

How useful are the toolkits and how should employers use them?

If you have kept up to date with our more recent employment and regulatory law updates, some of the guidance provided in the above links may not be anything new or ground-breaking. However, for those who have not seen our previous articles on the April 2024 changes, please note that these toolkits provide practical advice and guidance for HR departments and managerial staff to follow and utilise. Implementing any new statutory change has its challenges, however, toolkits such as the ones above ensure legal compliance and best practice.

In particular, the toolkits on Pregnancy and Maternity contain useful information on how to communicate and forward plan employees about to start their leave.

This is provided as a checklist and will be very easy to implement with managerial staff when undergoing internal regulatory updates and training.

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