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Are maternity rights going to be extended?

January 29, 2019
Employment Law

There is always going to be room for debate over the extent to which new and expectant mums should receive ‘special protection’ in the workplace.  Are they still vulnerable to poor treatment?  Is the administrative and financial burden placed on small employers too great?  Have we struck the balance just about right?  

Well, currently, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) is considering whether our laws need to be strengthened in relation to the way in which new and expectant mums are protected from the impact of redundancy situations arising within the workplace.

The current position

Presently, employees on maternity leave who are placed ‘at risk’ of redundancy enjoy preferential treatment when it comes to alternative employment opportunities.  Essentially, they get ‘first dibs’ on any suitable alternative roles available within their employer (or any ‘associated employers’).  However, interestingly, this right does not extend to pregnant employees who are not otherwise on maternity leave.  Furthermore, it comes to an end as soon as the new mum returns to work.

Extended protection?

The DBEIS is currently consulting on whether this redundancy protection ought to be extended so that it kicks in from the point at which the employee first becomes pregnant and continues until the employee has been back at work for at least 6 months.  This would significantly increase the period of time for which the redundancy protection applies.

Do you want to comment?

The DBEIS is currently seeking views on its proposed extension to the law, as well as other possible tweaks to current maternity legislation.  If you want your thoughts to be heard on this issue, you can submit your response to the consultation at any time up to 5 April 2019.  Click on the link below for more information:

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