In a report published last week, Maternity Action are piling pressure on the Government to introduce a radical overhaul of the current system to eradicate the “harsh impact of unfair redundancies on pregnant women and new mothers” and tackle a root cause of the gender pay gap. According to the report a staggering 1 in every 20 new mothers are made redundant during pregnancy, maternity leave or on their immediate return to work. This statistic gleaned from an analysis of calls to the charity’s advice line, highlighted a clear trend from discriminatory dismissals being labelled as redundancy in an attempt to avoid discrimination complaints. It is also in line with research compiled by the EHRC that pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination is at an all time high.
The report recommends a change to the German model of redundancy protection : absolute protection from redundancy from the date of notification of pregnancy through to 6 months after the employee’s return to work, subject to some limited exceptions. The charity is also calling for improvements in guidance for employers to help eliminate discrimination against expectant mothers and new mothers in the workplace.
We are commonly asked to advise employers on the scope of employees’ maternity rights and their obligations in this regard and, in our experience, it can be quite a tricky path to tread. We have produced a brief employer guide on maternity rights which provides invaluable guidance SME employers a copy of which can be viewed here