New guidance explores redundancy and maternity leave

Acas and the Equality Human Rights Commission have published a new guide to help employers understand the rights of women who are pregnant or on maternity leave when facing redundancy.

Employers and employees seeking advice on pregnancy or maternity and redundancy issues make more than 15,000 calls a year to the Acas helpline. Unfair dismissal or detriment related to being pregnant or on maternity leave accounted for 1,900 cases lodged at the Employment Tribunal in 2011-12.

The new guide outlines what the law says, advises on how to handle the situation correctly and sets out four key questions the employer should ask when considering which posts to make redundant:

  • is the redundancy genuine?
  • how do I consult employees on maternity leave?
  • how do I decide the right selection criteria?
  • is there a suitable alternative vacancy?

Steve Williams, head of equality at Acas, said: “There is still a lot of confusion amongst employers about managing an employee who is pregnant when their role is genuinely being made redundant.

“No redundancy situation is nice, but it can be made a lot worse if an employer is not aware of the law or how to treat a person fairly. Supervisors and managers need to know the specific rights of pregnant women and women on maternity leave.”

Rosalind Bragg, director of national charity Maternity Action said: “Since the recession began, Maternity Action has provided advice to a steady stream of pregnant women and new mothers who have lost their jobs because of unfair – and unlawful – treatment in redundancy situations. This guidance is a useful step towards addressing this serious problem.”

Link: Managing redundancy for pregnant employees or those on maternity leave