Legal protections against redundancy is to be extended by six months for new mums returning to work
New mothers returning to work after having children will receive greater protection from being treated unfairly under new plans.
Mothers on maternity leave already have legal protection against redundancy but this is set to be extended to six months after they return to work.
Parents returning from adoption and shared parental leave will also be protected.
Currently, redundancy protection is in place for pregnant women from the start of pregnancy until they return to work. This will change however, to protection applying from the point at which the mother-to-be informs their employer of the pregnancy, either in writing or orally.
Up to 54,000 women a year feel they had to leave their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity discrimination, even though it is illegal under the terms of the Equality Act.
Mothers on maternity leave already have legal protection against redundancy but this is set to be extended to six months after they retur
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2016 found that 11% of women reported they were forced to leave work after taking maternity leave.
Meanwhile, 20% of mothers reported other financial loss such as a lower pay rise or bonus.
Kelly Tolhurst, business minister, says: “There is no place for discrimination against new parents in the modern workplace. It is unacceptable that new parents continue to feel they are treated unfairly and the government is determined to put an end to this.
“The reforms announced today will better protect new parents, giving them the peace of mind to manage the return to work while also caring for a new child.”
The government has also announced that a new taskforce made up of employer and family groups will be established to develop an action plan on what further steps can be taken to make it easier for pregnant women and new mothers to stay in work.
One in nine women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child, or were treated so badly they felt forced out of their job, according to research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Working Families chief executive, Jane Van Zyl, says: “We hear from women struggling with pregnancy and maternity discrimination every single day on our helpline.
"These reforms are a step forward in protecting the jobs of new mothers and parents returning to work, sending a strong message to rogue employers that discriminating against new parents is unacceptable.
“Ultimately, the more that UK workplaces embrace flexible working and gender equality, the easier it will be for mothers and fathers to return to work and progress in their careers after parental leave.”
How is this gender equality unless men also have protection from redundancy for the same period when their partners are pregnant?