What do we already know?
In our February 2019 Newsletter Government reforms (1): Family friendly – protection against redundancy we updated you that the Government had published a consultation, Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination: Consultation on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents (available here). The consultation asked for views on what changes could be made to the current framework, to provide extra protection to pregnant employees. The Consultation closed on 5 April 2019.
This Consultation followed the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s enquiry into pregnancy and maternity discrimination in 2016 (see our Blog Is employment law currently failing pregnant women?). The Committee found that discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers had become more common over the previous ten years and recommended steps that the Government should take to improve the situation. One recommendation was to extend the existing protection against redundancy for new mothers.
The Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) has published its response to the Consultation (available here) on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents. It supports the Government’s plans and has asked the Government to implement its proposed extension of redundancy protections as quickly as possible – and to introduce additional protections.
The WESC also made some further recommendations, including the provision of a streamlined advice platform for both employers and individuals in the form of a website providing further information and resources. This is to address its concerns that the quality and accessibility of the advice and information currently available is inadequate and should be improved.
The WESC also recommended that the time limit for pregnancy/maternity discrimination claims be extended from three months to six months – a proposal which it believes already has widespread support and should therefore be introduced as quickly as possible.
A further recommendation (consistent with its previous report in 2016) is that larger employers should record and publish retention rates for women 12 months after they return from maternity leave and 12 months after they lodge an application for flexible working. This is with the intention of identifying employers who have a “poor record” on this form of discrimination.
We await the Government’s reaction to the responses received to the Consultation and will keep you up to date with any reforms. In the meantime, please do let us know if you have any queries on maternity and pregnancy workplace issues and continue to comply with the current laws and guidelines in this area.