As all HR professionals will be aware, during a “protected period” (i.e. the beginning of pregnancy to the end of maternity leave), unfavourable treatment of a woman because she is pregnant or on maternity leave is unlawful discrimination. The guidance looks at circumstances in which employers would be able to make a woman who is pregnant or on maternity leave redundant without breaching the legislation. The document further sets out in what circumstances a redundancy situation would be genuine and what procedures should be followed where dismissal is being contemplated.

The guidance will be helpful to many organisations which fear making any woman who is pregnant or on maternity redundant even where there is a genuine business case to do so. A woman can be made redundant during her statutory maternity leave providing there is a genuine redundancy unconnected with her pregnancy or maternity leave and you are able to shown that a fair redundancy process has been followed. From our experience the most important things to consider are:

  • Ensuring that a fair redundancy selection process is followed, in particular making sure that a woman on maternity leave is not disadvantaged, by keeping her informed.
  • Consulting in detail about the proposed redundancies.  If you fail to consult with women who are on maternity leave due to their absence, this is likely to be discrimination, and further makes the process unfair.  We would recommend that you agree the least intrusive and least stressful methods of keeping in touch before a woman goes on maternity leave.
  • If there are any suitable alternative roles within the business, these must be offered to a woman on maternity leave before they are offered to anyone else in the organisation.  If you fail to do this, and then make the redundancy, the dismissal will be automatically unfair and you may further be subject to a successful discrimination claim.

To view the guidance, click here.

For more information

In this difficult economic climate we recognise the importance of implementing change and improvement within your organisation, even in difficult circumstances, and we believe we can help you achieve your long term objectives in a sensitive way. For more information on our offer in this area please contact Anna Dabek on 0121 212 7494 or anna.dabek@anthonycollins.com.

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