Can you be fired during maternity leave?

When you’re on maternity leave you’re dealing with too many dirty nappies to be too concerned about the job you left behind, but you should be aware of your rights as an employee on maternity leave. While you can’t be fired during maternity leave because the firm would have no grounds to dismiss you if you’re not in the workplace, you could face redundancy.
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Redundancy while on maternity leave

In today’s job market redundancy while on maternity leave is unfortunately something that many new mums have to face. It means no job to go back to, but it shouldn’t affect your rights and you can expect to receive the same money you were banking on from your firm while you take the first 6 months or year of your child’s life off work. While this is a horrible situation for any new mother, it’s not illegal as long as the firm hasn’t made you redundant because you’re on maternity leave. The reasons for redundancy can be easily fudged by the company, so the government has provided some guidelines on the subject.

Fair dismissal

The firm has to justify why it choose you over other candidates and they can’t use your maternity leave as an excuse. This is a very grey area and unfortunately official stats show that 440,000 women a year face some form of discrimination from work while pregnant. As an example, direct.gov.uk suggests that if your employer is closing your section of the business, then your redundancy is fair. However if they’re making selective cuts across your department, they need a very clear reason why they chose you for the chop over your colleagues.

Special rights

Thankfully the law provides special rights for mothers on maternity leave which might help you keep your job. You have the right to be offered suitable alternative jobs in the company and even if there’s a more suitable candidate, you will be prioritised.

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