Can I Be Made Redundant Because I’m Pregnant?
No, you cannot legally be made redundant because you are pregnant as this would be discrimination at work, but you can be made redundant whilst you are pregnant for valid, lawful reasons. These are:
- If the business closes permanently or temporarily
- If the business moves location and you can’t get there any more
- If the business needs fewer employees
If you have been made redundant because you are pregnant, you may have a claim for discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal.
For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Employment Solicitors.
Redundancy during Pregnancy
Being made redundant at any time is very stressful and upsetting, but this is amplified if it happens during your pregnancy. Your work status will affect the statutory benefits you are entitled to and your employment contact may offer enhanced benefits for you during your maternity leave, which you would lose if you were made redundant.
The key thing to consider is whether you are being made redundant for one of the three reasons listed above, or if you are being made redundant because you are pregnant.
For more information see Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination at Work.
Suitable Alternative Roles
As part of any redundancy procedure, an employer is under an obligation to ensure that they explore alternative roles within the organisation as an alternative to redundancies.
In some cases, an employer will invite employees at risk of redundancy to apply for roles where there are more people at risk of redundancy than there are roles available. An employer is under an obligation to offer such a role to a pregnant employee in preference of other employees affected by the redundancy.
If your employer refuses to appoint you to a role you feel would be suitable or insists that you have to interview for the role, you may have a claim for discrimination at work and automatic unfair dismissal.
Making a Claim
If you think you are being made redundant because you are pregnant, you could have a claim for discrimination at work and automatic unfair dismissal.
In normal unfair dismissal cases, you need to have been employed for more than two years to make a claim, but because being pregnant is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 you can make a claim no matter how long you’ve been employed.
To make a claim for discrimination and unfair dismissal because you are pregnant, you’ll need to show that your employer made you redundant because of your pregnancy.
Your employer should have fair selection criteria which they will use to select who should be made redundant. These criteria could be:
- Your length of service
- Your experience and skills
- Your performance to date
- Your disciplinary record
Your employer should use a number of criteria to score each employee against to help them select for redundancy. Employers need to make sure the selection criteria are ‘fair’. That means using any criteria that directly or indirectly discriminate could be unlawful.
If you are pregnant and have been selected for redundancy, you should consider some of the following questions:
- How many people are being made redundant?
- Is it only you?
- What are the reasons for the redundancies?
You can ask your employer to tell you what selection criteria they used when choosing who would be made redundant as this may help you decide if you want to make a claim for workplace discrimination. You can also ask for a written statement outlining the reasons for your dismissal.
If you are made redundant whilst you are pregnant, you do have rights and these depend on how far through your pregnancy you are.
Statutory Maternity Pay
You may have concerns that you won’t be eligible to receive your Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). If you are made redundant and your employment finishes “before” your qualifying week (this is the 15th week before your baby is due) you won’t be able to claim Statutory Maternity Pay. You may be eligible to claim Maternity Allowance instead. Your employer should give you the SMP1 form which explains why you weren’t entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay.
If you are made redundant in or after your qualifying week, you will still receive Statutory Maternity Pay for 39 weeks.
You should give your employer 28 days’ notice of the date you want to start your pay along with your Maternity Certificate, also called a MATB1.
Providing you have worked for your employer for more than two years and you are at least 17 years old, you should get some redundancy pay. Statutory redundancy pay is calculated based on your age, your weekly pay and how long you’ve worked there. You can use the GOV.UK Redundancy Calculator to work out how much you could get.
If you do think you were made redundant because you are pregnant, there are strict time scales to make a claim against your employer.
Our Employment Solicitors can advise you and discuss your next steps.
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