Redundancies for pregnant women and new mothers

What are your rights?

Your employer can’t discriminate against you when they are deciding whether to make you redundant. You can be made redundant during pregnancy or maternity or parental leave, providing it is a genuine redundancy situation and you have not been selected for redundancy because of your pregnancy or leave.

You should watch out for redundancy decisions based on rules or criteria that affect people with a protected characteristic more than others. This is called ‘indirect discrimination’.

For example, your employer could decide to make people redundant based on how many hours they’ve worked in the last month. Women are more likely to have childcare responsibilities, and might have worked less in the last month. This means your employer’s redundancy criteria might affect women worse than men, and could be indirect discrimination against women.

It’s unfair dismissal and maternity discrimination if your employer selects you for redundancy because you’re pregnant or on maternity leave. Contact Community for support if you think you may be able to challenge your redundancy.

If you are made redundant during your maternity leave, the law states that a woman on maternity leave must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, if one exists, as soon as her post is at risk of redundancy. This is because you may be about to give birth or may have been out of the workplace for some time and you would be disadvantaged in having to compete for roles. This protection also applies if you are on adoption leave or shared parental leave.

You should be given first refusal of any suitable alternative job and you should not have to attend interviews as you have priority over other workers being made redundant (who are not on maternity leave).

If there is a suitable alternative role you should be offered it during your maternity leave and as soon as your employer becomes aware that your role is potentially redundant. Your employer should not wait until you return to work (you can remain on maternity leave and return to the new job when your leave ends).

If your employer fails to offer you a suitable alternative vacancy this may be automatic unfair dismissal. In some cases this may also be maternity discrimination.

If no suitable alternative vacancy exists, you are entitled to any redundancy/notice pay you qualify for. If you are offered a suitable alternative job and unreasonably refuse it, you will lose your right to redundancy pay.

If you are being made redundant you may be entitled to redundancy pay and/or notice pay. Your contract of employment may give better rights. Always check your contract if you have one.

 

Equality Impact Assessments

Any time your employer is making a change that impacts the workforce, you can ask them to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). EIAs are only compulsory for the public sector but are an important tool for all employers to ensure that their decisions do not adversely impact one particular group of workers. This is particularly prevalent with redundancies and employers should be especially careful to ensure redundancies are selected fairly. You can learn more about EIAs by checking out our guide here.

If you need further advice on issues not covered in this factsheet, please contact Community’s service centre on servicecentre@community-tu.org or 0800 389 6332.