The recent Pregnancy and Maternity Related Discrimination and Disadvantage report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed worrying statistics on what happens to working women while on maternity leave.
Communication on Maternity Leave
The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report stated that the most common problem reported by mothers on maternity leave was not enough contact from work whilst they’re away. One in four mothers (26 per cent) said this was the case. The EHRC report added that 29 per cent of employers said they were concerned that by contacting their employee they would be putting pressure on them to return to work.
SPLIT days and KIT days are a useful tool to keep in contact with work whilst you are on leave. They allow you to take a day or two out of your leave to return to work for a catch up without any chance of you losing the right to return to your leave. The study showed that small private sector employers are the least likely to have formal, or informal, contact with employees on maternity leave.
Loss of Employment While Pregnant or on Maternity Leave
A shocking six per cent of the women surveyed in the EHRC’s report found themselves facing redundancy.
You can only be made redundant whilst on maternity leave if your role is genuinely redundant, and there is no suitable alternative for you. You cannot be made redundant just because you are pregnant or on maternity leave. This is against the law and so you would be entitled to make a maternity discrimination claim.
Even if you have been made redundant for genuine business reasons, it is still worth taking advice on whether you could succeed in a claim. For example, all employees on maternity leave have the right to first choice over any suitable alternative vacancies. So if your employer fails to offer you a suitable alternative role when one is available you may have a valuable claim.
Sadly, the report shows that 29 per cent of mothers who were made redundant whilst on maternity leave were not offered an alternative position at the same or higher level. What’s more is that one per cent of all mothers (or almost one in five of those made redundant) found themselves to be the only employees who were made redundant as well as not being offered an alternative position at the same level or higher.
And nine per cent of the mothers surveyed said they were so poorly treated while pregnant, on maternity leave, or upon their return to work, that they felt as if they had no choice but to leave.
If you experience maternity discrimination at work, Slater and Gordon Lawyers can help. We can provide you with immediate representation from one of our 27 offices across the UK. For a no obligation consultation, call us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online.