Government proposals to extend legal protections for pregnant women and new mothers
Amy Gordon, Solicitor in Lindsays’ Employment team, discusses the recently published Government consultation paper which sets out proposals to extend the legal protection afforded to pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace.
The Government has published a consultation paper setting out proposals to extend the legal protection afforded to pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace.
The proposals follow research which found that women continue to experience difficulties in employment when returning from family-related leave. Research by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (‘BEIS’) estimates that as many as 54,000 women may lose their job each year due to pregnancy or maternity.
The current legal protections for pregnant women or women who have recently given birth are contained in the Equality Act 2010 and the Maternity and Parental Leave Etc Regulations 1999 (‘Maternity Regulations’). Women are protected against discrimination from the start of their pregnancy until the date two weeks after the end of pregnancy or, if later, until their return from maternity leave (known as the ‘protected period’).
This protection is against discrimination because of pregnancy or taking maternity leave. After the protected period, it is unlawful to treat a woman less favourably because of her pregnancy, maternity or breastfeeding.
Under the Maternity Regulations women on maternity leave benefit from priority over other employees in a redundancy situation and must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy in preference to other employees at risk of redundancy, when such a vacancy is available.
Despite the existing protections, research cited by the Women and Equalities Select Committee suggests that new mothers are still being forced out of work when they seek to return. To tackle this, the Government is considering extending the protection afforded to pregnant women in a redundancy situation beyond the maternity leave period – so that the obligation to offer a suitable alternative vacancy would apply from the time a woman informs her employer she is pregnant until 6 months after her return from maternity leave.
Extending this protection to those on adoption leave, shared parental leave and longer periods of parental leave is also under consideration. The Government’s full consultation paper can be accessed here and is open for response until 05 April 2019.
Amy Gordon, a Solicitor in Lindsays’ Employment team commented;
“Whilst the Government’s proposals are aimed at tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination by extending legal protections, it is also hoped that these will bring about cultural changes around women in the workplace.
“Research conducted in 2017 by the BEIS, found that one third of private sector employers agreed that it was reasonable to ask women about their plans to have children in the future during recruitment, showing the potential for discrimination can begin at the early stages of the employment journey.
“Employers can familiarise themselves with current legislation and best practice by consulting the ACAS guidance on Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination.”
- The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has urged the Scottish Government to use their powers to support key transport routes and jobs.
- Continued growth after expansion for leading law firm Thorntons
- Tax Avoidance Schemes and Liquidation
- Personal and Corporate Insolvency Law and the differences in regimes as between Scotland and England & Wales
- Scone Palace gets into shape with a January Jog
- Buses Are Key To Making Our Communities Cleaner And Ensuring Our High Streets Thrive As Pivotal Year Begins
- 2020 starts with a bang for Employment Law
- The Enchanted Forest opens its 2020 Community Fund for applications
- Care Home resident and former St Johnstone FC scout welcomes his home team for visit
- Local charity donation of Perth Panto tickets
- Scone Palace opens doors to public to enjoy day of festive splendour
- 150 year old family business takes Perthshire’s top title
- Barrie Foundation Backed By Chamber Golfers
- SEVENTH UK WIN ON THE SPIN FOR CARBON
- Perthshire care home opening doors to job seekers this weekend
- Carbon back Open winner's foundation
- New lease of life for Perth nightclub
- SCC Comments on proposed Brexit Agreement
- Businesses call for Brexit outcome that delivers "wall of cash" economic upside
- Peebles Hydro Turns Water Into Gin
- Business finalists selected for Star billing
- Circular Tayside Manager joins Chamber teams
- Balhousie Care Group’s staff shine as they are shortlisted for four Scottish Care Awards
- Barclays launches Brexit clinics for farmers and manufacturing clients as it announces fresh wave of support for business