Frequently Asked Employment Questions

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Document updated/added on 21.12.2020

Topic: Redundancy

Is redundancy an easy way to get rid of staff on maternity leave?

No, never. Any attempt to make a woman redundant for a reason(s) related to her pregnancy amounts to unlawful discrimination. Indeed, those on maternity leave who have been provisionally selected for redundancy have a statutory right of priority over other potentially redundant employees to be offered any available suitable alternative vacancy (and new legislation is to be introduced, when Parliamentary time allows, which will extend this right of priority over suitable alternative vacancies so that it applies from the point an employee informs her employer that she's pregnant until six months following the end of her maternity leave). You can only select a woman on maternity leave for redundancy if you can show that the entire selection and dismissal process is a fair one. This can be done by: (1) fully consulting with the employee throughout the redundancy process even though she’s on maternity leave; (2) discussing all available options, including suitable alternative employment; and (3) ensuring that none of your redundancy selection criteria could be directly or indirectly discriminatory in any way, e.g. don't include pregnancy-related sickness absences if attendance record is one of your criteria for selection Tip. Don’t assume an employee will want to go or be less ambitious about her future with you simply because she’s on maternity leave.