The Government have proposed an extension of the protection against redundancy afforded to women in the UK who are pregnant or on maternity leave for a further 6 months after they return to work. 

The proposals are currently the subject of a consultation and are part of the Government's response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee report on pregnancy and maternity discrimination which found that current protections are not adequately working to prevent discrimination. 

It is a commonly held opinion, but a myth that a woman who is pregnant or on maternity leave cannot be made redundant. This is untrue and there will be times when an employer may lawfully dismiss a woman in these circumstances. There is no proposal to change this part of the law.

However, if a redundancy situation arises and there is a suitable alternative role available, this role must be offered to the employee who is pregnant or on maternity leave (or taking adoption leave or shared parental leave) before any other employees. This is the additional protection which the Government are proposing should be extended. 

The protection currently ends when the woman's maternity leave (or a person's adoption leave or shared parental leave) finishes but the proposal is that the protection will continue for a further 6 months from when they return to work. 

The proposal is that the protection would also be extended to parents returning from adoption leave or shared parental leave, including dads for a period of 6 months from their return.

The consultation will run until 5 April. 

For advice on your obligations as an employer please contact me at amanda.trewhella@freeths.co.uk

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