On 25 January 2019, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a consultation document titled Pregnancy and maternity discrimination: extending redundancy protection for women and new parents.
This consultation was in response to recent independent reports which showed that 77% of women reported negative experiences at work related to their pregnancy or maternity and that the number of expectant and new mothers forced to leave their jobs had almost doubled since 2005
Extension of redundancy protection to new mothers.
The report proposes that the best way to offer further protection for new and expectant mothers is to extend the scope of the current protection against redundancy provided under the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3312) (MPL Regulations).
Currently, regulation 10 of the MPL Regulations confirms that, before making a woman on maternity leave redundant, an employer must offer them a suitable alternative vacancy where one is available with the employer, or an associated employer. If a suitable alternative vacancy is available and is not offered, then any dismissal would likely be deemed automatically unfair.
The proposal by BEIS is that this protection should be extended so that the same level of protection is offered not only to those on maternity leave, but also pregnant women and new mothers who have recently returned to work.
BEIS proposes that the protection under regulation 10 is extended by six months after the new mother returns to work.
BEIS also recommends that protection should be offered to pregnant women as soon as they notify the employer in writing of their pregnancy.
Protection for other groups?
BEIS have also considered that those taking similar leave such as adoption leave, shared parental leave and longer periods of parental leave may also experience similar problems to women taking maternity leave. It therefore seeking views on whether the additional protection should be extended to some or all of those groups.
This proposals are now subject to an on-going consultation.
We will keep you updated as matters progress.
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