Redundancy or dismissal

It is against the law for you to choose your employee for redundancy because she is pregnant or on maternity leave.
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It is also illegal to dismiss her due to her pregnancy. However, there may be other factors that mean you may need to take this course of action.

Making an employee redundant during her pregnancy

You can’t select an employee for redundancy because of her pregnancy. In this instance, she could claim for unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination.

Other than that, though, redundancy during pregnancy is essentially the same as redundancy at any other time.

You must select employees for redundancy on the basis of fair and objective criteria. As with any employee, your pregnant employee is entitled to be fully consulted about the selection procedures and the redundancy. You must also offer her suitable alternative employment if possible.

Take care to ensure that any objective criteria do not unfairly impact on a pregnant employee. For example, if absence from work is one of the criteria for selection for redundancy, you must not count any pregnancy-related absence.  

If you make your pregnant employee redundant after the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC), she can still receive her full entitlement toStatutory Maternity Pay (SMP), as SMP is not dependent on remaining employed. 

Making an employee redundant during maternity leave

As with pregnancy, it’s against the law to select an employee for redundancy because she is on maternity leave. If you do this, she can claim for unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination.

If you choose your employee for redundancy for other reasons, you should offer her a suitable alternative job if one is available, or tell her about any other suitable vacancies.

An employee on maternity leave should not be required to interview or compete for a suitable alternative role.

Your employee can continue to receive any remaining Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), but her period of maternity leave comes to an end at the time she’s made redundant.

You must ensure your employee is given any notice period or redundancy payments she’s entitled to.

Dismissing an employee during pregnancy or maternity leave

You can’t dismiss an employee because of her pregnancy or maternity leave. If you do this, she can make a claim for unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination.

However, you can dismiss an employee if you have other legitimate grounds unrelated to her pregnancy and/or maternity leave.

If you dismiss your employee while she’s pregnant or on maternity leave, you should give her written reasons for her dismissal. She is entitled to these whether she asks for them or not, and no matter how long she has been employed by you.