Maternity Action is calling for the government to take action to stop pregnant women and new mothers being made unfairly redundant.
Every year there are half a million pregnant women in the workplace. One in 20 are made redundant, often illegally, just because they are pregnant or on maternity leave.
Back in 2016 the Women and Equalities Select Committee called on the government to take action to protect pregnant women and new mothers from discrimination, including unfair redundancy. They drew on Maternity Action’s evidence recommending the so called “German Model” of redundancy protection. Effectively this would make it illegal for employers to make a pregnant woman or a new mother redundant except in very limited circumstances, such as the business going under.
The law does already offer some protection from unfair redundancy. Under Regulation 10 of the Maternity and Paternity Leave Regulations 1999 (MAPLE), a woman on maternity leave must be offered any suitable alternative vacancy as soon as her job is at risk of redundancy. The Government is currently consulting on extending this protection for six months after a woman’s return from maternity leave. We have welcomed this proposal and encourage you to support it too by responding to the consultation. You can Maternity Action’s response to the redundancy consultation here.
However, we don’t think these proposals go far enough. We know from the many women who call the Maternity Action advice line, that employers often ignore the existing protections. Or they find ways to get around them. For instance, one woman who called our advice line was booked to give birth by caesarean section the following week. Her employer had just told her that her role had been identified as being at risk of redundancy along with the rest of her department. She was being asked to apply for her new role with assessments and interviews over the next month. The existing regulations should have prevented her employer from demanding that she attend interviews while on maternity leave but they didn’t.
Under the current system, a woman in this situation would have to pursue an expensive and complex employment tribunal claim in order to challenge her employer. Less than 1 per cent of women who have been discriminated against in pregnancy go to tribunal. We need robust legislation that takes the onus off women to challenge their bosses and makes it harder for employers to discriminate.
That’s why we’re asking our supporters to write to their MPs this Mother’s Day asking them to demand stronger protections from redundancy for pregnant women and new mothers.
Please take a few seconds to support our campaign by contacting your MP.
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