Redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal regardless of whether you are pregnant or on maternity leave. But if an employer selects you for redundancy purely because you’re pregnant, on maternity leave, or recently had a child, you can claim automatic unfair dismissal and sex discrimination.
In all cases, employers have the burden of proving they acted reasonably when carrying out the redundancy. If your case reaches an employment tribunal, they will consider whether a reasonable employer could have dismissed you for redundancy in the circumstances of your case.
The tribunal will take into account whether your employer consulted with you and whether the appropriate pool of people for selection was identified. They will also consider whether suitable alternative work was available and whether your employer considered moving you to a different position. It is also very important that your employer follows a fair procedure and gave you a right of appeal against any decision to select you.
It is not for the tribunal to decide if the decision by your employer to make redundancies was the right decision, however, only whether it was within ‘a band of reasonable responses’ that a reasonable employer might have adopted. A tribunal will be reluctant to get involved in decisions taken for business reasons.
Special rights for women made redundant during maternity leave
If you’re on maternity leave and you’re one of a number of employees at risk of redundancy, you must be offered ‘suitable alternative positions’ before colleagues who are not on maternity leave. If your employer offers a suitable alternative position to someone else instead of you, you may claim unfair dismissal.
In addition, once you qualify for statutory maternity pay you are entitled to receive it for 39 weeks even if your redundancy takes effect during the statutory maternity period.
Special rights for women made redundant during pregnancyHelp and advice
If you believe your employer has unlawfully made you redundant while pregnant or on maternity leave, you can obtain free, confidential and independent advice from Acas.
Alternatively, you may want to speak with a solicitor who specialises in employment law. You can find a solicitor in your area by searching our solicitor directory. Just fill in the form in the top right corner of this page.
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