The current position is that if a pregnant employee or woman on maternity leave is selected for redundancy, her employer has an obligation to offer her a suitable alternative vacancy, where one is available. The alternative vacancy must be appropriate for the employee and the terms must not be “substantially less favourable” than the current role.
This protection then ceases when the employee returns to work. The government conducted consultation and the results were startling. As many as 54,000 women a year reported leaving their jobs due to sex discrimination.
One in nine women who returned to the workplace following statutory maternity leave felt either so poorly treated they resigned, or they were made redundant, or dismissed for some other reason.
With this is mind, the government proposes to extend protection against redundancy from when an employee tells their employer they are pregnant, to six months after the employee has returned to work. The same will apply for employee who take adoptive leave. Protection will also be extended to those taking shared parental leave (SPL) although take up of this has been relatively low.
A task force will support the government by providing employers and families with access to information on pregnancy/maternity discrimination. The aim is to keep more expectant and new mothers in work and reduce discrimination in the workplace.
What can businesses do?
As the government continues to work on this, businesses can be proactive in ensuring all employees feel welcome in the workplace.
Equality & diversity training will help manage expectations regarding employee and management behaviour in the workplace based on legal obligations and company policy. It will help your management team focus on understanding the benefits of an equal opportunities and diversity policy.
Alcumus PSM offer a variety of HR training courses to support your organisation with such matters.
Or contact the Alcumus PSM HR team for advice on any of the above, including restructuring and redundancies by emailing [email protected] or call us on 0330 057 1557.
Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Written by Sophie Millington, HR Consultant