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Redundancy during Pregnancy

What is redundancy?

Redundancy is basically a type of dismissal. To be made redundant, you have to be dismissed for one of the following reasons:

  • The need for workers of a particular skill has reduced or ended in your employer’s organisation
  • Your workplace has permanently or temporarily closed down.
  • Your employer goes out of business

Redundancy can be a fair reason for dismissal but it has been often used as an unfair practice. It may also be an unlawful discrimination under the law of Equality.

Redundancy during pregnancy

If you have been made redundant because you are pregnant, you may be a victim of pregnancy discrimination which is an unlawful act under the Equality law. Redundancy may be genuine, but if your employer uses a discriminatory criterion for selection, it will still be a pregnancy discrimination. Here are some examples of such criteria:

  • If leave taken due to a pregnancy related sickness are taken into account when reviewing your general absence record, in the same way as a medical absence which is not pregnancy related.

  • If your antenatal appointments are taken into consideration as a part of your attendance record.

  • Any vague criteria like loyalty, flexibility or commitments are applied in a way which relates to the reason that you are pregnant.

Redundancy during pregnancy and Statutory Maternity Pay

In order to receive the Statutory maternity pay you must fulfil the following criteria;

  • You should have worked for the same employer for a minimum of 26 weeks by the end of your qualifying week of maternity, i.e. 15 weeks before your baby is due.
  • You must earn a minimum of £116 on average two months before your qualifying week of maternity.

You are not entitled for SMP if you are made redundant and your employment ends with the organisation before your qualifying week. In such cases, you may be able to claim a maternity allowance.

In a situation where you are made redundant during or after your qualifying week, you will still be entitled to SMP for 39 weeks. In case you are already on maternity leave and receiving your SMP, your maternity leave will end on the day your employment ends but you will continue to receive SMP for the remaining weeks out of 39 weeks.

It is important to remember that once you are qualified to receive SMP, you have the right to receive it for the entire 39 weeks of your maternity even if your employment ends during that period.

In spite of several laws being made, there are several cases of redundancy and unfair dismissal during pregnancy which has poorly affected the job satisfaction and quality of work environment for women in UK. If you think your employer is making you redundant because you are pregnant it is suggested that you have a talk and address the issue with your employer informally or write a grievance letter to the concerned authority in your organisation.

If the suggested measures do not seem to work or you do not know what to do, you can visit an office of employment solicitor to take the right guidance and understand your rights better.