Equality watchdog advises employers on updated pregnancy and maternity protections in the workplace

Published: 5 April 2024

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) today published an updated toolkit to provide employers with clear advice on what they should do to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work. This updated guidance reflects changes to the law which have come into effect this month (April 2024).

The toolkit gives detailed guidance on what action employers must take before, during and after their staff take maternity leave, to ensure they are protected from discrimination.

The toolkit sets out the changes employers will have to make, which include:

  • Extending protection from redundancy to include pregnant women and those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave.
  • Offering suitable alternative employment to pregnant women and those on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave in a redundancy situation, including having priority over other employees regarding alternative roles.
  • Providing the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment.
  • Increasing flexibility in how paternity leave can be taken.

All employers should review the advice and ensure their policies are fully compliant with the law, so pregnant staff, and staff taking parental leave, receive the full protections they are entitled to.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

“As Britain’s equality watchdog, we have a duty to explain the law around pregnancy and maternity rights to employers, employees and the public.

“An employer understanding their legal duties is the foundation of equality in the workplace. Our revised toolkit explains those legal obligations and provides employers with practical advice on how they can best support pregnant women at work and ensure those staff taking parental leave are not discriminated against.”

Notes to editors
  • The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 introduces the extended protection and The Maternity, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 amends the Employment Rights Act 1996 to bring that protection into force on 6 April.
  • The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 introduced reforms to the flexible working regime and the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 brings those changes into force on 6 April.

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