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Enhanced redundancy protection for women and new parents

The Government has published a consultation paper on enhanced redundancy protection for women and new parents. This follows a recommendation in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices that redundancy protection for women should be reviewed.

The Review referenced a March 2016 joint survey by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Equality and Human Rights Commission which suggested the redundancy rate among mothers at some point during pregnancy, maternity leave or on return from maternity leave is considerably greater than the redundancy rate among female employees as a whole.

The survey found that a quarter of employers felt it was reasonable during recruitment to ask women about their future plans to have children.

Currently, pregnant women and those on maternity leave are protected from detriment by the Equality Act 2010 and associated regulations. This makes it unlawful to discriminate against them on the basis of their pregnancy or maternity, i.e. it is unlawful to select an individual for redundancy on these grounds. In a rare example of positive discrimination, women on maternity leave are currently given first refusal of any suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation.

The consultation considers whether it should, among other proposals, grant pregnant women and new parents a period of protection, here suggested to be six months, in which they cannot be made redundant.

This is considered to be a suitable timescale for employees to reintegrate themselves into the business prior to facing the risk of any potential redundancy.

The closing date for the consultation is 5 April 2019.

If you require any further information, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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