DAVID ROYDEN - EMPLOYMENT SOLICITOR
UK EMPLOYMENT LAW

David Royden is a Partner with Laytons Solicitors and Head of Employment Law, Manchester, UK

Laytons Solicitors is a national law practice specialising in all aspects of Company and Commercial Law

Laytons Solicitors, 22 St John Street, Manchester M3 4EB.
Tel: +44 (0) 161 834 2100
Fax: +44 (0) 161 834 6862

Offices at London, Manchester and Guildford, UK

 

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Dismissal on the grounds of Pregnancy or Maternity

A woman will automatically be regarded as unfairly dismissed if her employer dismisses her, or selects her for redundancy, because she is pregnant or has given birth to a child, or for a reason connected with her pregnancy or childbirth.

All employees are entitled to 26 weeks' maternity leave provided that they satisfy certain notification requirements. If such employees have completed 26 weeks continuous employment by the beginning of the 14th week before the expected week of childbirth they are entitled to an additional period of maternity leave. Additional maternity leave lasts for up to a further 26 weeks starting from the end of ordinary maternity leave.

A woman may make a complaint of automatic unfair dismissal, regardless of her length of service, in any of the following circumstances:

  • the dismissal is for a reason connected with her pregnancy;
  • the dismissal is on the grounds that she has given birth and takes place during her ordinary or additional maternity leave;
  • the dismissal is on the grounds that she took, sought to take or availed herself of the benefits of ordinary maternity leave, or that she took or sought to take additional maternity leave;
  • the dismissal is on grounds of a health and safety provision which could give rise to a maternity suspension;
  • she is unfairly selected for redundancy for any of the above reasons;
  • the dismissal is on grounds of redundancy, it takes place during her ordinary or additional maternity leave, and the employer has not first complied with the requirement to offer her any suitable alternative vacancy which is available.

In addition, it is unlawful to dismiss an employee who does not return from her maternity leave on time because:

  • her employer has not properly notified her of the date it ends and she reasonably believes it has not ended; or
  • her employer has given her less than 28 days' notice of the date it ends and it is not reasonably practicable for her to return on that date.

An employee who is not given her job back, or offered a suitable alternative job, at the end of additional maternity leave will not be regarded as unfairly dismissed if the employer can show an employment tribunal that:

  • it was not reasonably practicable (on grounds other than redundancy) for her to be taken back in her original job or a suitable alternative job and an associated employer had offered her suitable alternative employment which she had either accepted or unreasonably refused; or
  • it was not reasonably practicable for her to be taken back in her original job or to be offered a suitable alternative job and the employer (together with any associated employers) employed only five or fewer people (including the employee herself) at the point when her additional maternity leave period ended.

If a woman is made redundant during her ordinary or additional maternity leave period, she may be entitled to a redundancy payment. However, if she was offered a suitable vacancy and unreasonably refused it, she may lose her right to a redundancy payment.

In addition, employees have the right not to be subjected to detrimental treatment on the grounds of pregnancy, childbirth or maternity.

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