May 4, 2018

New European Ruling Reinforces Existing UK Regulations for Selecting Pregnant Employees for Redundancy

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has ruled in a case where a pregnant employee was made redundant in a decision that supports the UK’s existing regulations governing such situations.

Ms Guisado was a Bankia SA employee when they started a period of consultation with workers’ representatives in 2013, consulting on collective redundancy.

An agreement was reached with the workers’ reps that granted protection to married or de facto couples, and to disabled employees, and Ms Guisado was sent a dismissal letter giving her notice of termination of her contract.

Ms Guisado was pregnant at the time she was dismissed, although the bank alleged it had no knowledge of this at the time of dismissal.

Ruling under the EU Maternity Directive

The key legislation here is the EU Maternity Directive, which applies from the beginning of pregnancy.

The Directive states that the dismissal of pregnant workers may occur only in exceptional cases not connected to pregnancy.

If a decision to dismiss is taken for reasons “essentially connected” to a worker’s pregnancy it is incompatible with the Directive – the CJEU made a decision that Guisado’s dismissal was unconnected to pregnancy, and therefore not protected.

This decision is in line with current UK practice.

Employers should be aware that, in the UK, the Maternity and Paternity Leave (MAPLE) Regulations grant women a preferential right to suitable available vacancies as an alternative to redundancy during maternity leave, but not before.

The ruling in this case means no changes will be required to the MAPLE Regulations and has confirmed that, unless a redundancy is connected to pregnancy or maternity, it is still legitimate to select a pregnant woman for redundancy.

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About the author

Stuart Clough

About the author

Stuart Clough

Stuart (MCIPR) is a trained journalist, writer and marketer with ten years' experience in B2B, public sector and employee communications. A former marketing consultant and agency client-lead, Stuart is responsible for communications and content at Moorepay.

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