Pregnant women and new mothers returning to work could receive two years of legal protection against redundancy, with new protections being put in place this month, which adds another six month period of protection for women after they return to their jobs.
Kelly Tolhurst, business minister made this announcement following her recent plans to reform legislation surrounding non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). The reform which plans to stop NDAs being used to prohibit individuals from coming forward to professionals such as police, doctors, lawyers or social workers regarding sexual harassment, racial discrimination and assault in the office.
Ms Tolhurst said:
There is no place for discrimination against new parents in the modern workplace. It is unacceptable that new parents continue to feel they are treated unfairly and the government is determined to put an end to this.
The reforms announced today will better protect new parents, giving them the peace of mind to manage the return to work while also caring for a new child.
This will advance the Government’s Good Work Plan, “the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation.” The Good Work Plan was announced in December 2018 and formed the Government’s response to Matthew Taylor’s independent Taylor Review of modern working practices (2017).
This move is in response to a consultation which discovered that new parents face discrimination, with research showing that 54,000 women a year feeling that they had to leave their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity discrimination.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said:
Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is illegal, and those on maternity leave have special protection in a redundancy situation. These reforms will for the first-time extend that redundancy protection for six months from the date of a mother’s return to work as well as covering those taking adoption or shared parental leave. This will help ensure new parents are protected from discrimination in the workplace, regardless of gender and circumstance.
Research by BEIS also found that one in nine women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child, or were treated so badly they felt forced out of their job.
The Government has also set out a new taskforce made up of employer and family groups which will be put together with the aim of developing a plan for the Government and other organisations to make it easier for pregnant women and new mothers to stay in work. As well as raising employer awareness of employee rights.
Jane Van Zyl, CEO of Working Families, a UK work-life balance organisation said:
We hear from women struggling with pregnancy and maternity discrimination every single day on our helpline. These reforms are a step forward in protecting the jobs of new mothers and parents returning to work, sending a strong message to rogue employers that discriminating against new parents is unacceptable.
Ultimately, the more that UK workplaces embrace flexible working and gender equality, the easier it will be for mothers and fathers to return to work and progress in their careers after parental leave.