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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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    Robert

    Excellent service, very professional. would definitely use again.

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    Mary B

    I was very happy with the work Chris did for me. I believe with his help I secured a more favourable outcome both financially and in terms of clauses contained in the legal agreement I ultimately signed. I had utmost trust and confidence in the advice Chris provided throughout. Chris kept me informed at every stage and I found him very efficient at bringing matters to a conclusion without unnecessary delay.

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    Anonymous

    Everyone I dealt with at Redmans were professional, empathetic & always responded promptly and helped make the transition as smooth & efficient as possible for me. If you need legal advice, don’t hesitate & contact the team.

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    Anonymous

    Sacha was incredibly helpful and professional. Timely and accurate advice at a time I most needed it. I was extremely impressed and grateful.

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    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 2 months ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 2 months ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

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    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

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    Posted 2 months ago