Enhanced redundancy protections are to be introduced by the government giving pregnant women and new parents even greater protection than that set out in current EU requirements.
At present The Equality Act sets out a ‘protected period’ during which women who are pregnant or on maternity leave are protected from discrimination.
The period runs from the start of pregnancy to a woman’s return to work or two weeks after the end of her pregnancy if she is not entitled to maternity leave.
However, the enhanced redundancy protections being introduced by the government extend this period to cover a new mum’s first six months back at work.
The move comes in response to a government consultation which found that new parents can face unfair discrimination, leading to women feeling that they have to leave their jobs as a result of pregnancy or maternity discrimination.
Announcing the changes Business Minister Kelly 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.”
Research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that one in nine women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child or were treated so badly that they felt forced out of their job.
A new taskforce is to be established to develop an action plan setting out further steps that the government and other organisations can take to make it easier for pregnant women and new mothers to stay in work. It will also make recommendations on raising awareness of employer obligations and employee rights.