It can be very distressing to learn that whilst pregnant or on maternity leave your job status has changed to ‘at risk of becoming redundant’.

Many people believe that an employer should not be able to make a pregnant women redundant. Indeed there are enhanced protections for pregnant women and those off on maternity leave, however, these are often misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Currently regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 states that, if a woman on maternity leave is selected for redundancy, she must be given priority over other redundant employees when the employer offers suitable alternative employment.

What does that mean?

Under the current law, if you are pregnant and your job is put at risk of redundancy, you should be offered any suitable alternative vacancy and you should not need to go through any selection process or compete with other candidates.

In short it means you can be made redundant whilst pregnant, but we recommend that you pay careful attention to the circumstances and the business rationale you are given to why you are being made redundant and in particular what the business appears to be doing to protect you and your job.

At the time of writing the government is proposing significant changes to legislation to extend the existing protection to pregnant women and new mothers. This might mean the ‘priority’ for suitable alternative jobs is extended to those that have declared they are pregnant, those who have returned to work in the previous six months after maternity leave and even adoptive parents.

If you have any questions or need help with a maternity or redundancy situation, speak with our HR experts online today.

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