Under a new government proposal, expectant mothers returning to work will receive greater protection from redundancy, extending the ‘protection period’ against dismissal up to six months after they return to work.
The 10-week consultation also recommends this be applied to others, including men, who return from both adoption leave and shared parental leave.
54,000 women may lose their job due to pregnancy or maternity each year
The consultation looked at research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that found one in nine (11 per cent) women had been fired or made redundant shortly after they returned to work from having a child, or were mistreated so severely that they felt pushed out of their own job.
What are the current laws?
If redundancies are being made within the workplace, employers must offer those on maternity or shared parental leave a ‘suitable alternative vacancy’ where one is available, giving these employees priority over others who are also at risk of redundancy.
The Equality Act 2010 currently sets out a ‘protected period’ during which women who are either pregnant or recently given birth are explicitly protected from discrimination. This period runs from the start of pregnancy through to the woman’s’ return to work, or two weeks following the pregnancy if the woman is not entitled to maternity leave. There are currently no such protections in place for parents who are adopting children, or for those who take shared parental leave.
Prime Minister, Theresa May, stated that it was ‘unacceptable’ that so many parents continue to encounter problems when they go back to work, and the reform would show “the UK is going even further in its commitment to workers’ rights and meeting the challenges of the changing world of work.”