Maternity redundancy protection: new responsibilities for employers

BlogHR Advice Posted: Wednesday 30th January 2019 by

Last week a government consultation set out plans to protect new mothers by extending the maternity redundancy protection rules. Currently, it is deemed unfair dismissal if a woman is chosen for redundancy because she is either pregnant or on maternity leave.

However, under the new rules, women who have already returned to work following a period of maternity leave would have six months protection from redundancy.

As the maternity redundancy rules stand today, an employer is obliged to offer other opportunities within the company to any woman whose position is made redundant whilst she is on maternity leave. If a woman is pregnant but not yet on maternity leave or has already returned to work there is no such obligation on the employer. However, like with any other employee under the threat of redundancy, employers must seek out other opportunities for alternative employment wherever possible.

The new rules would also apply to individuals who take time off for shared parental leave and adoption leave.

Rules to prevent women returners from being treated poorly in the workplace

The consultation follows research which found that 11% of women reported they were either dismissed; made compulsorily redundant, where others in their workplace were not; or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job. And, 20% of mothers reported other financial loss which included failing to gain a promotion, salary reduction, a lower pay rise or bonus, not receiving non-salary benefits and/or demotion.

Prime minister Theresa May said: “It’s unacceptable that too many parents still encounter difficulties when returning to work. Today’s proposals are set to provide greater protection for new parents in the workplace, and put their minds at ease at this important time.”

“People in this country already benefit from some of the most rigorous workplace standards in the world – including parental leave and pay entitlements – but we are determined to do even more as we leave the EU.”

Jane van Zyl, CEO of the charity, Working Families, said: “Maternity discrimination harms parents and businesses alike. “We hear from women struggling with pregnancy and maternity discrimination every single day on our helpline. But pregnancy and maternity discrimination isn’t just bad news for families; it’s also bad news for the economy.”

The consultation will run for 10 weeks and end on April 5th 2019.


Not sure how the new rules might affect your business? Get in touch with Human Results for professional support.

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