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Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, looks at the issue of whether it is lawful for employees (in the UK) to be made redundant whilst they are on maternity leave

If you’ve been made redundant whilst you are on maternity leave then the question of whether your redundancy is lawful will depend upon how the redundancy has been carried out. Broadly, employees who are on maternity leave have the following rights:

  1. To not be dismissed for a reason connected with the fact that they are taking a period of ordinary or additional maternity leave (section 99 Employment Rights Act 1996, following on from regulation 20(1) and (3) of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations (“MPL Regulations”));
  2. The right not to be subjected to unfavourable treatment because they have taken a period of maternity leave (section 18 Equality Act 2010)
  3. If a redundancy situation arises during an employee’s maternity leave and “it is not practicable by reason of redundancy” for the employer to continue to employ the employee under their existing contract then the relevant employee is entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy (to start immediately after her existing contract ends) (Regulation 10 of the MPL Regulations)

These rights are examined below

The right not to be dismissed for a reason connected with the fact that the employee has taken a period of ordinary or additional maternity leave

If an employee is dismissed where the only (or principal) reason for her dismissal is related to pregnancy, birth or maternity leave, the dismissal will be automatically unfair. This can often be a difficult claim for an employee to succeed with, as they would have to show that (at the very least) the principal reason for their dismissal was the fact that they had taken maternity leave – in a situation where collective redundancies are being made by an employer the employee would have to show that they had been placed at risk of redundancy because of their maternity leave rather than this simply being a consequence of the collective redundancy exercise.

For examples of redundancy situations which have been automatically unfair see the following cases:

The right not to be subjected to unfavourable treatment because they have taken a period of maternity leave

A dismissal will almost always constitute unfavourable treatment for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. If an employee is dismissed on maternity leave where the only (or principal) reason for her dismissal is related to her period of maternity leave (and is therefore automatically unfair), then such a dismissal will almost always constitute discrimination under section 18 Equality Act 2010.

The right to be offer a suitable alternative vacancy if an employee (who is on maternity leave) has been selected for redundancy

If an employee who is on maternity leave is selected for redundancy then they are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy (under Regulation 10 of the MPL Regulations) – in practice this means that their is an obligation for employers to prioritise employees on maternity leave for alternative roles in the organisation which are suitable for them; selecting a female or male employee who is not on maternity leave for a suitable alternative role where an employee on maternity leave should have been ‘slotted in’ as a priority would constitute a breach of Regulation 10 of the MPL Regulations.

For examples of redundancy situations which have constituted a breach of Regulation 10 of the MPL Regulations see the following cases:

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

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Testimonials

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Rob O

Very prompt response and I could not fault the service. My solicitor listened carefully to the details of my case and I felt very confident in the advice I was offered. All emails and work done on my behalf with my former employer was of the highest standard and Redmans helped take a lot of the stress out of the situation for me.

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Mike H

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Anonymous

Fantastic and quick service!

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Anonymous

I was very satisfied with Redmans' service. Clear, sensible advice and the bill was in line with their estimate. I would recommend them.

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Eugene A

Excellent communication and guidance provided on the redundancy settlement process. Process was concluded quickly, very satisfied with service.

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Harold d

Great personlised service and quick communication. Solicitor helps greatly in understanding the options and advising best course of action.

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Trish B

Professional and efficient. A pleasure to deal with.

Posted 2 days ago

Omi H

Excellent communication. A tactical negotiator to get the best package for the client. Highly recommended.

Posted 2 days ago

Nicholas S

Very prompt and efficient. Excellent advice.

Posted 2 days ago

Anonymous

Very helpful and always available to help! It was my first time to deal with any solicitors, but I felt very supported until the end!! Well done!! and great Job!!

Posted 1 week ago

Mohamed F

Excellent and professional solicitors, highly recommended

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

Redmans Solicitors provided a professional and prompt service in dealing with my settlement agreement. They used their experience to negotiate a better deal for which I am grateful for. I highly recommend their services.

Posted 1 month ago

Cheryl R

Very efficient and friendly lawyers. I have used Redmans twice now and Chris Hadrill has been amazing to work with. Would highly recommend Redmans.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I found Redmans Solicitors to be extremely professional, dealing with my questions and concerns quickly and in detail. I would have no hesitation in recommending Redmans Solicitors to anyone.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I requested Redmans services on a redundancy case. Both Chris and Rana were great, thoughtful, very professional and responded quickly. They were very clear throughout the entire process, regarding the process and my options and I couldn't feel I had better legal advice for my case. Overall excellent service and I would certainly recommend and use their services again.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Responsive, patient, thorough and personable - an excellent service.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

The team at Redmans, Chris Hadrill and Sacha Barrett were always very helpful and had expert knowledge to assist me during my employment law matter, I would not hesitate to recommend them to all!

Posted 1 month ago

Arun T

Chris was punctual, attentive and accurate. He answered my questions with clarity and avoided dubiosity. I would recommend him to anyone seeking legal advice within his remit.

Posted 1 month ago

Yulian Z

Great service

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Excellent, professional service and a speedy resolution. Many thanks

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Taral P

Sacha and Chris were both very helpful in closing out my matter. Sacha was very clear in helping me understanding the documents I needed reviewing, providing a professional service throughout.

Posted 1 month ago