Extending redundancy protections for pregnant women and new mothers

A Bill to give pregnant women and new mothers enhanced legal protections against redundancy has been reintroduced to Parliament.

The Pregnancy and Maternity (Redundancy and Protection) Bill has been reintroduced by Maria Miller MP as a 10-minute rule Bill. However, without government backing (which it has signalled it will not give) , it’s very unlikely to progress. 

The intention of the Bill would seem to be to replace or amend reg. 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 under which a woman on maternity leave is ‘entitled to be offered’ any suitable alternative vacancy, where one is available, as soon as her job is at risk of redundancy. The Bill would seek to prohibit redundancy during pregnancy and maternity leave and for six months after the end of the pregnancy or leave, except in specified circumstances. This is a much more generous position than the existing government plan which would simply extend the protection afforded by reg. 10 for an additional six months after return from maternity leave. It has confirmed it’ll press ahead with this, possibly in a forthcoming Employment Bill, but as yet there is no timescale.

Commenting on the existing reg. 10, Maternity Action said that ‘in practice … the protection [reg. 10] offers is little more than a mirage, with employers able to simply ignore the law, safe in the knowledge that, having just given birth or been out of the office for up to a year, a woman is unlikely to bring a tribunal claim – the only means of challenging an unfair redundancy’.