Pregnant women and new parents to receive enhanced redundancy protections

Pregnant women and new mothers returning to work could be protected from redundancy for up to two years, business minister Kelly Tolhurst has announced.

The government said it will be extending the protections for six months after a woman’s return to work.

It has been introduced in response to a government consultation that found new parents continue to face unfair discrimination.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

According to the government, research has estimated that up to 54,000 women a year felt they had to leave their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity discrimination, despite this form of discrimination being illegal.

The new reforms are intended to ensure redundancy protection for six months from the date of a mother’s return to work.

It will also cover parents taking adoption or shared parental leave, which is part of the government’s plan to protect parents from discrimination, regardless of gender and circumstance.

The announcement follows a number of measures aimed to support working parents, as part of the government’s Good Work Plan. They include proposals for new leave entitlements for parents of premature and ill babies and proposed new measures to make sure large companies are more transparent on their policies around parental leave and pay and flexible working.

Plans to protect parents

Ms Tolhurst said: “There is no place for discrimination against new parents in the modern workplace. It is unacceptable that new parents continue to feel they are treated unfairly and the government is determined to put an end to this.”

She added that the new reforms will “better protect new parents, giving them the peace of mind to manage the return to work while also caring for a new child”.

The government also announced that a new task force made up of employer and family groups will be established to develop an action plan on further steps the government and other organisations can take to help pregnant women and new mothers stay in work.

It will also focus on making recommendations to raise awareness of the legal obligations employers face, as well as employee rights.

Reforms welcomed

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy previously found that one in nine women said they had been sacked or made redundant when they returned to work after having a baby or had been treated so badly they felt forced out of their job.

Jane Van Zyl, CEO of work-life balance champions Working Families, welcomed the government’s reforms. She said: “We hear from women struggling with pregnancy and maternity discrimination every single day on our helpline.

“These reforms are a step forward in protecting the jobs of new mothers and parents returning to work, sending a strong message to rogue employers that discriminating against new parents is unacceptable.”

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