Government to consult on ways to make sure new mothers have "sufficient protection" from redundancy

Rebecca Smith
The government said it will consult on options to protect new mothers from redundancy
The government said it will consult on options to protect new mothers from redundancy (Source: Getty)

The government has pledged to protect working mothers from redundancy in its response to a report on maternity discrimination.

A report carried out by the Women and Equalities Select Committee last year, found the number of new mothers forced to leave their jobs had almost doubled to 54,000 since 2005.

It recommended protections similar to those in Germany where new and expectant mothers can be made redundant "only in specified circumstances".

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Now the government has said it will take action and bring forward proposals to ensure that protections in place for pregnant women or those returning from maternity leave are sufficient.

There are systems in place meant to protect women returning to work from maternity leave - such as having an entitlement to the same job if they return within 26 weeks. Those on maternity or shared parental leave also have greater protections from redundancy over their colleagues (for the full 52 weeks of maternity leave or up to 50 weeks of shared parental leave).

But the report found six per cent of all mothers were made redundant and two per cent of all mothers were made redundant on their return from maternity leave.

Business minister Margot James said: "It is appalling that some new and expectant mothers feel alienated and discriminated against in the workplace. Not only is pregnancy and maternity discrimination unlawful, it is also makes absolutely no business sense."

A study from the EHRC found that forcing mothers from their jobs costs British businesses nearly £280m each year.

Read more: Maternity leave sackings are costing British businesses £280m a year

"We are determined to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace in our bid to build an economy that works for everyone. A key part of that is making sure women in work who choose to have child are supported and treated fairly," James said.

The government will consult on options to make sure women have sufficient protection from redundancy "in due course".

But the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Frances O'Grady, said the plans don't go far enough.

She said: “We are pleased the government has finally published its plans for tackling pregnancy discrimination. However ministers are still not confronting the elephant in the room – the impact of employment tribunal fees.

“Bad bosses will continue to get away with discriminating against new mums as long as it costs up to £1,200 to take a pregnancy discrimination claim."

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