When you become pregnant, you have increased employment law protection rights. Read this blog to understand what your rights are as an employee.
Have You Ever Heard Of The Protected Period?
The Protected Period starts when you become pregnant and it applies throughout your pregnancy until the end of your maternity leave, i.e., up to 52 weeks or until you return to work, if sooner. Whilst you are in the Protected Period, it is unlawful to discriminate against you because of your pregnancy, an illness because of your pregnancy, or because you are on maternity leave.
Know Your Legal Rights
If you are pregnant, or on maternity leave, you have the following legal rights:
- You have the right to attend antenatal appointments.
- You are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, regardless of your length of service. If, whilst on maternity leave, you decide to return sooner, you can do so by giving your employer notice.
- You have the right to request flexible working, which includes a change to your working hours when you return to work, at the end of your maternity leave.
- You have health and safety protection while breastfeeding.
- You have protection from dismissal, detriment and discrimination because of your pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave.
You also have the right to return to your same role (once maternity leave ends), or if this is not possible, a suitable alternative role with no less favourable terms and conditions. Additionally, you have priority for alternative employment, in redundancy cases.
This blog focuses on what it means to be entitled to return to your same role after maternity leave, and what legal protection you have if there is a redundancy situation.
Right To Return To Your Same Role – Ordinary Maternity Leave
If you have taken Ordinary Maternity Leave (this lasts up to 26 weeks), you are entitled to return to the same role you had before you started maternity leave and your terms of employment must be on no less favourable terms. This is the case, unless there has been a redundancy situation whilst you have been on maternity leave.
Right To Return To A Suitable Alternative Role – Additional Maternity Leave
Additional Maternity Leave starts the day after Ordinary Maternity Leave finishes, i.e., after 26 weeks into your maternity leave and ends at 52 weeks.
Whilst, at the end of Ordinary Maternity Leave, you have the right to return to your same role, when you return to work after Additional Maternity Leave your right to return is a little different. You do remain entitled to return to your same role, but if it is not reasonably practicable for this to happen, you must still be offered an appropriate alternative role, with no less favourable terms. An example of this would be where it is not reasonably practicable because your employer carried out a re-organisation during your maternity leave.
What Happens When There Is A Redundancy Situation?
If, whilst you are on maternity leave, a redundancy situation arises and because of the redundancy situation it is not practicable for you to continue in your same role, you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative position, if available. You should be given priority over other employees who are also ‘at risk’ of redundancy. If your employer does not comply, you may have a claim for Automatic Unfair Dismissal.
How Can Lincs Law Help You?
If you are pregnant, or on maternity leave and you are worried you may not return to work in your same role, whilst your role still exists, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, initial (no obligation) conversation. You can contact us on 01522 440512 or by visiting our Contact Us page: https://lincslaw.co.uk/contact/ You can also read more on your pregnancy and maternity links here: https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/workplace-problems/pregnancy-and-maternity-discrimination/
Associate Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Solicitors
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