The present legal protections against redundancy is to be extended by six months for new mothers returning to work. Parents returning from adoption and shared parental leave will also be protected.
The move comes in response to a government consultation which found that new parents continue to face unfair discrimination. Research estimates that up to 54,000 women a year felt they had to leave their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity discrimination.
Employers should note that pregnancy and maternity discrimination is illegal, and those on maternity leave have special protection in a redundancy situation. The reforms recently announced will, for the first-time, extend the redundancy protection for six months from the date of a mother’s return to work as well as covering those taking adoption or shared parental leave. This will help ensure new parents are protected from discrimination in the workplace, regardless of gender and circumstance.
Today’s announcement follows a raft of recent measures designed to support working parents, as part of the government Good Work Plan. These include proposed new leave entitlements for parents of sick and premature babies and proposed new measures to ensure large businesses are more transparent on their policies for parental leave and pay and flexible working.
Research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), found that one in nine women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child, or were treated so badly they felt forced out of their job.
This change goes further than current EU requirements on maternity entitlements and parental leave.
According to government sources, the aim of this change in redundancy protection is for UK businesses to embrace flexible working and gender equality as this will make it easier for mothers and fathers to return to work and progress in their careers after parental leave.