Can you be made redundant on maternity leave?

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Redundancy during maternity leave

If you are made redundant during maternity leave, you are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay.

Yes, you can be made redundant while on maternity leave, in that employers are always able to dismiss their employees. The better question is whether the dismissal is unfair and/or discriminatory and whether the additional protections afforded to employees on maternity/adoption/shared parental leave apply to your situation.

Are people on maternity leave protected from redundancy?

Yes, to an extent. If you are made redundant during maternity leave, you’re still entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer.  You’re also entitled to notice pay, accrued holiday pay and statutory redundancy pay if you’ve got more than 2 years’ service. However, it is still possible to make an employee on maternity leave redundant – there are a few additional hoops to jump through though.

Employers must Employers must offer employees on maternity leave any suitable alternative vacancies elsewhere in the organisation. That means offering them the job, not just offering them the chance to apply for it.

Employees are protected from the point they become pregnant (or when they adopt), until their maternity leave ends.  That can mean when they return to work, or when they switch from maternity leave to annual leave, or parental leave, before physically returning to work.

What is the new legislation for maternity redundancy?

New regulations are coming in from April 2024 which will extend protection from redundancy beyond the end of the employee’s maternity leave, to 18 months from the date of birth.

Protection from redundancy for parents on maternity/adoption/shared parental leave will last for 18 months from the date of birth/placement, not just up to the end of the period of leave as at present.

Who is protected by the new law?

The protection from redundancy will come into effect from 6 April 2024 and will apply to pregnancies notified to the employer on or after that date.  It will also apply to those on maternity/adoption leave, whose leave ends on or after that date. For those on shared parental leave, it will apply where the leave starts on or after 6 April 2024.

It’s important to remember that it’s only a right to request flexible working – not a right to get it. Employers have several set reasons for which they can refuse requests.

If you need advice about anything mentioned in this blog, or are concerned about anything your employer is doing or proposing to do, just get in touch with us at employment@qlaw.co.uk and we’ll arrange a time for a brief chat to get initial details and talk through how we can help.

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