The charity Maternity Action says that ministers committed to review redundancy protection in January but so far have failed to act.

It warns of the ‘harsh impact of unfair redundancies on pregnant woman and new mothers’ in its report,

According to the study: one in twenty mothers are made redundant during pregnancy, maternity leave or on their return to work. Many of these are unfair and some, discriminatory. From an analysis of the calls to the charity’s helpline, the research says that many redundancies are not genuine, merely labelled ‘redundancy’ in an attempt to avoid discrimination claims.

Some pregnant women were forced to take part in stressful selection processes in late pregnancy and that others faced shock redundancies when they returned to work.  Even women on maternity leave, who have additional rights during the redundancy process were losing their jobs, it says.

Recent research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has shown that the rate of pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination is very high and has worsened significantly.

To further tackle discrimination against expectant and new mothers in the workplace, the charity is calling for improvements in guidance for employers, information for women and support for advice services.

There are twelve recommendations at the end of the new report:


  1. New legal protections should be introduced to protect women against unfair redundancy to six months after the end of maternity or shared parental leave.
  2. To ensure better protections are in place while the new legislation is prepared, the ‘Reg 10’ protections should be immediately extended to operate from the commencement of pregnancy through to six months after the end of maternity or shared parental leave.
  3. The protections for pregnant women and new mothers should be extended to fathers and partners taking paternity, shared parental and parental leave during pregnancy and their child’s first year.
  4. Employers should be encouraged to evaluate the retention rates for women one year after returning from maternity leave, as part of their gender pay gap analysis.
  5. Extend the time frame for making a claim to the employment tribunal to six months for women from pregnancy through to six months after return to work.
  6. ACAS should update its guidance on redundancy during pregnancy and maternity.
  7. Government should consolidate information for employers on managing pregnant women and new mothers at work on a single website, and this should be kept up to date.
  8. Government should provide signposting for women to high quality online information on maternity rights.
  9. A significant injection of funding should be made into women’s charities providing specialist information and advice services that enable pregnant women and new mothers to protect their rights and entitlements.
  10. All women should be given a hard copy leaflet at their first antenatal appointment which briefly outlines their rights at work and signposts to key sources of information and advice.
  11. Reintroduction of the ‘Pregnancy’ and ‘Birth to five’ books, previously distributed by health services.
  12. Midwives, maternity support workers and health visitors should receive training on maternity rights at work, including signposting to sources of advice and support.

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