New law to protect pregnant women against redundancy

The Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Bill will extend protection currently available only for parents on some type of relevant leave, to pregnant women and new parents returning to work.

  • Before dismissal, employers must offer suitable alternative vacancy, where one exists.
  • Current law protects employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave.
  • Bill extends protection to pregnant women and new parents returning to work from leave.
  • 54,000 women a year feel they must leave jobs due to discrimination.

Pregnant women and new parents will receive greater protection from redundancy under new legislation presently going through parliament. Under current rules, before offering redundancy to an employee on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave, employers have an obligation to offer them a suitable alternative vacancy where one exists. The Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Bill, introduced by Dan Jarvis MP and backed by the government, will enable this redundancy protection to be extended so it applies to pregnant women as well as new parents returning to work from a relevant form of leave. This will help shield new parents and expectant mothers from workplace discrimination, offering them greater job security at an important time in their lives.

The Bill follows a government consultation on these proposals which found evidence of new parents facing prejudice in the workplace, with an estimated 54,000 women a year feeling they have to leave their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity discrimination. A government spokesman said: “The reforms will help to remove workplace discrimination and provide improved job security for employees at such an important and precious time in their lives. The measures will be beneficial to businesses, helping to improve relations with employees and reducing a source of conflict that can be costly and time consuming. Alongside these reforms, the government is also working with the Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Advisory Board to update guidance so that this type of discrimination in the workplace continues to be stamped out.” 

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, said: “I am delighted that my Private Members’ Bill passed its second reading in Parliament and is now a step closer to becoming law. At the heart of this Bill are tens of thousands of women pushed out of the workforce each year simply for being pregnant. I’m proud this new legislation will go some way to providing pregnant women and new mums greater protections in the workplace.” 

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law. 

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