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Extending redundancy protections for pregnant employees and new mothers

The government is looking at how the redundancy protections for pregnant women and new mothers might be extended as well as a possible extension of the relevant tribunal time limits.

This builds on the proposals outlined in the Good Work Plan which was a response to the 2016 Taylor Report.

In a consultation (which closes on 5 April 2019), it is proposed that:

  • the legal protection against redundancy for pregnant women and new mothers on maternity leave (currently provided for in reg. 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999) be extended so that it continues for up to 6 months after they return to work
  • similar extended protection be granted to parents returning from adoption leave and shared parental leave, and
  • the government will look at the evidence for extending tribunal time limits for claims relating to discrimination, harassment and victimisation, including on grounds of pregnancy and maternity (the Women and Equality Select Committee suggested an extension from 3 to 6 months)

Regulation 10 currently requires a woman being made redundant during maternity leave to be offered alternative work when there is a suitable available vacancy.

The proposal is simply to extend that right so that it begins when the women informs her employer that she is pregnant and continues to apply for six months after her return. If and when brought into force, this would not stop an employer from making an employee redundant when she was pregnant, on maternity leave, or recently returned. It would simply mean that if the employer did so – and it had suitable alternative work available – then it would be obliged to offer her that suitable alternative work.