30 January 2019

The government has announced new plans to give more protection against redundancy for pregnant women and new parents when they return to work after having children.

A consultation has been launched on proposals to extend the legal protection against redundancy which pregnant women and new mothers already have if they are employees or ‘workers’.  The additional protection would continue for up to 6 months after they return to work.  The consultation will also look at whether the same protection should be offered to parents returning from adoption leave or shared parental leave, which would include men who take time out to care for a new child.

According to research by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 54,000 women each year lose their job due to pregnancy or maternity leave.  The research suggested that 1 in 9 women have been fired or made redundant after returning to work after having a child, or they were treated so badly that they felt forced out of their job. 

Under UK law, women are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, 39 weeks of which are paid. 

The new proposals won’t apply to self-employed women.  They don’t receive Statutory Maternity Pay but can claim Maternity Allowance of up to £145.18 a week (or 90% of their average weekly earnings, whichever is lower) for a maximum of 39 weeks.  Like Statutory Maternity Pay, the rate is set to increase to £148.68 a week from April 2019.  However, recent research has shown that the average self-employed mother takes just 23 weeks off work as maternity leave, instead of the full 39 weeks.

Most will welcome employees returning from maternity leave with open arms

Hilary Hall, NHF/NBF chief executive said, “We know that many hair and beauty salons are struggling to recruit qualified and experienced staff.  Most will welcome employees returning from maternity leave with open arms and will do everything they can to keep new mothers on the team.  It’s more of a struggle for self-employed stylists or therapists who often return to work earlier than they have to because of financial pressures.”

*Research by mortgage broker, John Charcol.