Redundancy can be amongst the most challenging time for anyone. It can fill you with stress, anxiety and fear for the future. This is particularly the case for those who are on maternity or parental leave, and for new mothers.
Currently, the rules around redundancy are stricter for those who are on maternity or parental leave than for wider employees.
If you are on maternity or parental leave, and there is a legitimate reason for your role to be made redundant, your employer must first offer you suitable alternative work if they have it. They should give you this as a priority over other employees.
Your maternity or parental leave or pregnancy also cannot be used as a factor in making redundancy decisions. If it is, this counts as automatic unfair dismissal and is a form of discrimination.
However, this protection is not full. It does not count if you are pregnant but have not yet started your maternity leave, and it does not include new mothers who have very recently returned to work.
This simply isn’t good enough.We know from the government’s own data that thousands of women leave their jobs when pregnant because of discriminatory experiences at work, and one in twenty are made redundant.
Each year, 53,000 women leave their jobs when pregnant because of how they have been treated. This shows us that our existing laws are not fit for purpose, and need to be updated.
Maria Miller MP last year introduced the Pregnancy and Maternity (Redundancy Protection) Bill, a bill to prohibit redundancy during pregnancy and maternity leave and for six months after the end of the pregnancy or leave, except in very specific circumstances.
This would be a very welcome development, but it has yet to pass the second reading in the House of Commons.
As we compete to build a better working world post-pandemic, we need to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers have the protections at work they deserve.