Maternity leave: Can you be made redundant while on maternity leave?

Maternity leave is a statutory requirement for almost everyone who is having a baby and has a job, or had one until recently. Maternity leave is the time one is permitted to take off from work to prepare and care for a new baby. But as millions are expected to be made redundant in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, mothers are asking: can you be made redundant while on maternity leave?

What is Statutory Maternity Leave?

People who are having a baby are entitled to a year of Statutory Maternity Leave, regardless of their tenure in a job.

While you are entitled to 52 weeks off work, you will only get maternity pay for 39 of them if you are eligible.

Paid maternity leave can begin at the earliest from the 11th week before your baby is born and you are not mandated to take the full 52 weeks.

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What rights do you have during maternity leave?

While you are taking your maternity leave, you are still entitled to all the employee rights you would normally enjoy while working.

These rights include:

  • Paid holiday
  • Protection from unfair dismissal
  • Pension payments and rights during your period of Statutory Maternity Pay payment
  • Any other employee benefits (e.g. gym membership, medical insurance) for your whole maternity leave period.

Can you be made redundant while on maternity leave?

Yes, you can be made redundant while on maternity leave.

However, your employer is not permitted to make you redundant because you are on maternity leave.

This would be classified as an automatic unfair dismissal and discrimination.

You could potentially claim this as unfair if you have no genuine reason for being made redundant.

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Pregnant staff on fixed-term contracts have similar rights to permanent employees, said the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

Parents on maternity leave or shared parental leave also have additional protection to help them get by while raising young kids.

For example, if you are on maternity or parental leave, and there is a genuine reason to make your role redundant, your employer must offer you suitable alternative work if they have it.

They should also give this to you as a priority over other employees.

Are you entitled to redundancy pay if on maternity leave?

You are entitled to Statutory Redundancy Pay if:

  • You have worked for your current employer for two or more years.
  • You are aged 17 or over.

Redundancy pay is calculated based on your salary, your age and tenure with a company.

The redundancy payment amounts are as follows:

  • Half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22
  • One week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41
  • One and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older.

How much notice do you get if you are being made redundant?

For those on maternity leave, you are also entitled to a statutory notice period of redundancy if you have worked for an employer for at least one month.

For employees who have worked for more than a month but less than two years, they are required to have one week’s notice of redundancy.

For those who have worked with an employer for two years or more, they must be given a week for each full year they have worked, but to a maximum of 12 weeks.

You may also be entitled to a longer notice period as part of your contract.

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