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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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205 Reviews

Gary P

All good advice, prompt and efficient

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Excellent advice and customer service.

Posted 1 month ago

Aneet G

I would definitely recommend Redmans. Very impressed with service provided. They were extremely proactive in handling my case which made things easier for me. Provided sound advice and resolution. Special credit for this goes to Chris who dealt with my case with great determination and consideration.

Posted 2 months ago

Fern M

Very efficient and friendly

Posted 2 months ago

Neville S

A professional and friendly service, which I would highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Daniel T

Extremely helpful and made a bad situation much more manageable. Where other solicitors seemed disinterested in my situation Redmans immediately made me feel like it was a team effort to achieve a more favourable outcome

Posted 2 months ago

Paul T

Excellent, quick and informative. Chris was a real star and gave me confidence during the uncertainty if a redundancy settlement.

Posted 2 months ago

Marina E

Felt in very capable hands was listened to and given excellent advice. Would not hesitate to recomend and use again if needed.

Posted 2 months ago

Rosa B

Fabulous service all round.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Redmans were quick to respond to my enquiry and dealt with my case professionally and personably. I received sound advice and was put at ease by Chris Hadrill, Partner.

Posted 2 months ago

Alkhas K

Excellent service.

Posted 2 months ago

Mathias G

Contacted them regarding my end of employment agreement. Chris Hadrill dealt with it and was done and handed back to employer same day more than happy with there service.

Posted 3 months ago

Mark W

Most professional from start to finish offering very a personal service. Most impressive and quick when dealing with the matters in hand.

Posted 4 months ago

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Posted 4 months ago

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I am very glad I came across Redmans Solicitors. Fantastic service!

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Fantastic communication, always happy to answer queries, highly recommended.

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They were very straight to the point, friendly and understanding people. I felt they had my best interest. They were easy to get hold of, replies were almost instant. 5/5 for customer service

Posted 4 months ago

Christina P

Caroline was fantastic to work with - extremely knowledgeable, supportive, thorough and honest. I definitely recommend Redmans!

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Very well done and fast support. Professional and reliable. Highly recommended!

Posted 4 months ago

Helene L

They were very knowledgable in the respected area in terms of change in law/regulations that is crucial for the clients who are seeking for legal arvice.

Posted 4 months ago

Sara R

Very helpful and wonderful advice

Posted 4 months ago