January 25, 2019
Pregnant women and new parents returning to work after having children are to be further protected from unfairly losing their jobs under new proposals set out by the UK government. The consultation, launching today (25 January 2019) and running to 5 April, proposes that the legal protection against redundancy for pregnant women and new mothers on maternity leave is extended so that it continues for up to 6 months after they return to work. It will also seek views on affording the same protection to parents returning from adoption leave or shared parental leave.
Research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), found 1 in 9 women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child, or were treated so badly they felt forced out of their job. The same research estimates 54,000 women a year may lose their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity.
The Government claims that the plans go further than current EU requirements on maternity entitlements and parental leave.
Rachel Suff, employee relations adviser for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: “The CIPD welcomes new government plans to introduce greater protection from redundancy for pregnant women and new parents returning to work.
“Discrimination not only disadvantages individuals, it also means that employers themselves are missing out on key talent. Organisations should be actively taking steps to stamp out any discrimination as well as supporting flexible working arrangements and progression opportunities for parent returners. The consultation is also an important opportunity for organisations to shape proposals that could extend the same legal protection against redundancy for pregnant women and new mothers on maternity leave to parents returning from adoption leave or shared parental leave. These kinds of family-friendly regulation and policies play a vital role in fostering inclusive and productive cultures where everyone can thrive and perform to their full potential while balancing commitments at home.”
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder, said: “Mumsnet users talk a lot about pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and in a 2018 survey 96 percent of women we surveyed said having children affected mothers’ careers for the worse. It’s a multifaceted problem requiring a change in attitude and culture as well as legislation, but stronger legal protection is a very welcome first step”.
Jane van Zyl, CEO of work-life balance charity Working Families, said: “We hear from women struggling with pregnancy and maternity discrimination every single day on our helpline. But pregnancy and maternity discrimination isn’t just bad news for families; it’s also bad news for the economy.
“Whilst many of the companies we work with already understand the business benefits of family-friendly workplaces, some employers still don’t. Proposals to extend protection from redundancy to new mothers and parents returning to work should go a long way toward protecting their jobs – and to reducing the shocking number of women who lose their jobs due to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
“Because more and more parents are sharing care equally, we welcome plans to ensure equal treatment for parents returning from Shared Parental Leave or adoption – bringing their rights in line with those enjoyed by women on maternity leave.”