Pregnant employees will be given extra protection against the risk of redundancy and other forms of workplace discrimination under new laws proposed in Parliament

Current legislation protects workers from being made redundant while on maternity leave, but a new Private Members’ Bill, proposed by Labour MP Dan Jarvis, would see the legal rights extended, from the moment an employee notifies their employer that they’re pregnant, up to 18 months after they give birth.

The bill has been approved by MPs and will now be debated in the House of Lords. In the UK currently, the Protected Period, which sits under the Equality Act 2010, covers the start of when a woman’s pregnancy begins and ends. It also states that if the woman has the right to ordinary and additional maternity leave, the protected period will be at the end of the additional maternity leave period or (if earlier) when she returns to work after pregnancy.

Further legislation includes the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999, which state that an employer should not make a woman on maternity leave, or a parent on shared parental or adoption leave redundant. Firms are also obliged to offer them a suitable alternative vacancy where one exists, if their job is at risk.

Despite the legal rights listed above, research reveals that maternity discrimination prevails in the UK. According to a study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, at least 54,000 women a year are pushed out of the workforce after becoming pregnant.

As always, 121 HR Solutions will advise readers of any legislative change which comes about as a result of this proposed Bill. 

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