Government launches consultation on parental rights

The Government is to consult on plans to extend protections from redundancy to six months after return from maternity leave.

Maternity leave


The Government is consulting on plans to extend legal protections against redundancy for new mothers on maternity leave to up to six months after they return to work.

The proposal is one of a number, including the extension of legal protections for women on maternity leave to parents returning from adoption or shared parental leave, which are being consulted on in the next months.

The consultation is being launched tomorrow and follows research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which found 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.

The same research estimates 54,000 women a year may lose their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity.

Jane van Zyl, CEO of work-life balance charity Working Families, said: “We hear from women struggling with pregnancy and maternity discrimination every single day on our helpline. But pregnancy and maternity discrimination isn’t just bad news for families; it’s also bad news for the economy.

“Whilst many of the companies we work with already understand the business benefits of family-friendly workplaces, some employers still don’t.

Proposals to extend protection from redundancy to new mothers and parents returning to work should go a long way toward protecting their jobs – and to reducing the shocking number of women who lose their jobs due to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

“Because more and more parents are sharing care equally, we welcome plans to ensure equal treatment for parents returning from Shared Parental Leave or adoption – bringing their rights in line with those enjoyed by women on maternity leave.”

Rosalind Bragg from Maternity Action welcomed the launch, but expressed disappointment at delays to introducing greater protections and said more needed to be done to protect pregnant women at work. She added: “We know from the women who call our helpline that many employers are either unaware of their responsibilities or are simply flouting the law.

The existing protections only apply once women start maternity leave.  Women need these protections from the moment they inform their employer they are pregnant.  We also need Government to extend these rights to agency workers and others in precarious work.”

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