In March 2016, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) carried out research into pregnancy and maternity issues at work. It revealed that 77% of women reported negative experiences at work related to their pregnancy or maternity. In addition, research carried out by the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) in August 2016 reported that the number of expectant and new mothers forced to leave their jobs had almost doubled since 2005.
Following this research the government published its response to the WESC report on 26 January 2017 whereby it committed to strengthening the position of women in relation to pregnancy, maternity and redundancy. In addition, after the Taylor review of modern working practices was carried out in 2017, the government stated that it would review the legislation in relation to pregnancy, maternity and redundancy.
On 25 January 2019 the BEIS published a report titled “Pregnancy and maternity discrimination: extending redundancy protection for women and new parents”. Within this report the BEIS proposed to the government that women and new mothers who have recently returned to work should be provided with the same redundancy protection as those on maternity leave. Currently, the law only provides redundancy protection to women on maternity leave in that an employer must offer them a suitable alternative vacancy where one is available with the employer, or an associated employer. BEIS also proposes that this protection is extended by six months after an employee returns to work.
Within the report the BEIS have asked for views on whether the protection provided under regulation 10 of the MPL Regulations should be extended to those who take adoption leave, shared parental leave and longer periods of parental leave.
The BEIS encourages responses to be submitted and the consultation will close on 5 April 2019.
The proposals put forward by the BEIS could have a significant impact on both employers and employees if the changes are implemented.
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