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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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Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

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Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

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Good Service

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Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

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Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

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Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

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Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

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Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

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Ricky D

Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

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Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

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Anonymous

Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

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Ahmed S

They are always on hand when you need them and provide support even when its not necessary.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Nemen S

Wonderful experience.Chris was very responsive and provided an excellent service. A real professional who I would recommend to anyone

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Their guidance was clear and they provided me with all the information I required. Friendly yet professional

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris @ Redmans assisted me with an employment issue. Firstly, he was very proactive in coming back to my initial enquiry and then helped to clearly lay out the options that I had in relation to my position. He then assisted with the preparation of my case, which led to a very satisfactory outcome. I would highly recommend the quality of service & professionalism offered by Redmans Solicitors.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Great service

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris was very effective and decisive in dealing with my matter. I felt guided, and the pressure to make decisions was taken off my shoulders; he knew what needed to be done and I was happy to follow his advice. The result of the legal dispute was a great success for me. He is also kind and personable. The only thing that I would say it could be improved, is the accuracy of cost estimation at the beginning: not many activites, that could not have been forseen had to take place, but costs went up more than double in the end. Overall very good and trustworthy. I would definately recommend and use Redmans services again.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Liz P

An excellent professional service was provided by Chris Hadrill and Mel Chin. Efficient and trustworthy - would highly recommend this company.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Redmans Solicitors were great. They were able to advice me quickly and efficiently! I would recommend them, as a good solicitors to use.

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