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New mums: redundancy protection consultation opens

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maternity discrimination, consultation, extending redundancy protection, new mothers, Mumsnet, BEIS, Pregnancy and maternity discrimination has absolutely no place in a fair and decent economy.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a consultation seeking views on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents.

This comes after research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that 1 in 9 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 same research estimated that 54,000 women a year may lose their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity.

This consultation seeks views on extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents.

It also sets out more widely what the department is doing to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and explain the current law on redundancy protection.

This is a commitment in the government’s response to the Taylor Review, and had previously been raised by the Women and Equalities Select Committee.

Matthew Taylor’s review of modern working practices outlined an ambition for all work in the UK economy to be fair and decent – and for employers to offer opportunities that give individuals realistic scope to develop and progress.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination has absolutely no place in that vision.

And it is unlawful – but the research that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Equality and Human Rights Commission published in 2016 demonstrates that it is still far too prevalent.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee then made clear, in its report on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, exactly how pregnant women and new mothers are and continue to feel forced out of work.

This consultation recommends that the government extends the current protection afforded under the Maternity and Paternity Leave etc Regulations 1999 (which apply to the period of maternity leave) to cover the period of pregnancy and a period after, an extension of 6 months. And it asks how best to achieve that and who would be covered – for example, those taking Shared Parental Leave or Adoption Leave.

The government is also considering how it might extend redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents once they have returned to work.

For more information, click here.

To respond to the consultation, click here.

The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 5 April 2019.

Remarking on the consultation, Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet, said: “Mumsnet users talk a lot about pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and in a 2018 survey 96 per cent of women we surveyed said having children affected mothers’ careers for the worse.

“It’s a multifaceted problem requiring a change in attitude and culture as well as legislation, but stronger legal protection is a very welcome first step.”

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