April 5, 2019

New Parents to Receive Six Months Additional Redundancy Protection Under Government Proposal

The government has set out proposals to extend the protection of new mothers returning to work. The proposals tighten the legislation around making new parents redundant when they return from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

One in nine new mothers getting fired or being made redundant

A recent study by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) found that one in nine new parents returning to work after maternity leave were fired, made redundant, or treated in a manner which forced them to leave their job.

The study also found that as many as 54,000 women per year are losing their jobs because of their pregnancy or maternity leave.

The BEIS also conducted a similar report in 2016. It found that around a third of employers thought it was reasonable to ask women about their plans to have children in the future during the recruitment process. The findings of both reports highlight that discrimination persists at all stages of a mother’s employment journey.

The government has set out proposals to increase the rights of pregnant women and new mothers

The government is seeking views on whether to extend the period of additional protection against redundancy. Their aim is to address such discrimination and to change the culture which can exist around mothers and the workplace.

Currently, new mothers have additional protection in redundancy situations arising during maternity leave. If their position is made redundant during maternity leave they are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy (if available) in priority over other affected employees.

The new proposals are set to extend this to cover the period of pregnancy for mothers and a six-month period for all new parents that return form maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Important case law surrounding employees on maternity leave and redundancies

South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust v Jackson

Failure to consider the extra protection of those on maternity leave during a redundancy process can be costly. This is demonstrated in a recent case involving South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Mrs Pease was on maternity leave from her position at the Trust when they commenced a redundancy process.

An important email requiring action was sent to her work email address which she did not have access to. The employment tribunal found that Mrs Pease had suffered unfavourable treatment because she was exercising her rights to maternity leave. Therefore, under the Equality Act 2010 this treatment amounted to discrimination. £5,000 in compensation was awarded to Mrs Pease.

This case highlights the importance of agreeing how you will communicate with employees while they are on maternity leave.

Next steps

Moorepay customers who would like advice on redundancy, maternity, paternity or shared parental leave should contact the advice line on 0845 073 0240.

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About the author

Gillian Smith

Gill has over 10 years HR generalist experience within the retail and industrial service sectors.Whilst providing HR support and services at the most senior levels Gill’s experience includes mergers and acquisitions, complex TUPE transfers, organisational development, and strategic change management. Gill has experience in the policy development process from design, consulting with directors and employee representatives through to implementation and delivering training workshops on the new polices. Gill currently is an HR policy consultant who services a variety of clients.