You can be made redundant during maternity leave as long as the redundancy situation is genuine and you are not selected for redundancy because of your pregnancy or maternity leave.
What Is A Genuine Redundancy Situation?
Redundancy is used to describe a situation in which an employer decides to reduce the number of its employees, either within the business as a whole or within a particular site, business unit, function or job role. The decision to make redundancies can happen for a number of reasons, including:
- Recession or other economic pressures.
- Changes in the nature of products or services provided.
- Internal restructure to make more efficient use of roles and duties.
- Technological developments.
- Relocation of the business.
Your employer has freedom to make business decisions which means that provided an Employment Tribunal is satisfied that redundancy is the genuine reason for your dismissal, it will not look behind the facts to see how the redundancy situation arose.
If redundancy is not the genuine reason for your dismissal and you are dismissed for reasons connected with your pregnancy or maternity leave, your dismissal will be automatically unfair.
Do I Get Priority Over Other Employees For Any Vacancies?
If a redundancy situation arises during your maternity leave and it is not practicable by reason of redundancy for your employer to continue to employ you under your existing contract, you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy (where one is available) to start immediately after your existing contract ends. This can include a vacancy with an associated employer and you would not be required to undergo a competitive interview for the post. Effectively, you have priority over other employees who are also at risk of redundancy and is a rare example of lawful positive discrimination.
Note however, that the entitlement to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy only arises once you have been selected for redundancy. Your employer is not able to take you out of the selection pool and automatically retain you as this would run the risk of committing sex discrimination against any male employees in the pool.
What Is A Suitable Alternative Vacancy?
Any new contract offered to you must be such that the work is both suitable and appropriate for you to do and that the capacity and place in which you are to be employed and the other terms and conditions of your employment, are not substantially less favourable to you than if you had continued to be employed in your old job.
What If My employer Does Not Offer Me A Suitable Alternative Vacancy?
If you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy and your employer does not comply with this requirement you will have a claim for automatic unfair dismissal.
What If Refuse An Offer Of Alternative Employment?
If you refuse a suitable offer your dismissal for redundancy is likely to be fair. If you unreasonably refuse the offer, you will also lose your right to a redundancy payment.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
If you are pregnant or on maternity leave and have an employment problem, please contact one of our specialist employment law solicitors on 01522 440512 for a free initial consultation. Alternatively, for more information about pregnancy or maternity discrimination, visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/workplace-problems/pregnancy-and-maternity-discrimination/
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors