Fired for Maternity Leave
Employee on maternity leave
Whilst it is possible for your employer to fairly dismiss you whilst you are on maternity leave, they will need to ensure that this is not solely or mainly because of your maternity leave and that they follow a fair procedure with full consultation as they would for any other employee. You are protected from suffering a detriment or dismissal for taking, or seeking to take, maternity leave under the Equality Act 2010, as this would be discrimination on the grounds of maternity or may amount to sex discrimination.
You are also afforded additional protection if your employer wants to make redundancies whilst you are on maternity leave. If you are at risk of redundancy and on maternity leave you must be offered any suitable alternative employment to your role before any of your colleagues. It will be automatic unfair dismissal if you are selected for redundancy because you have taken maternity leave, benefited from the terms and conditions you are entitled to during maternity leave or did not return from maternity leave on time where you were not informed of the correct date or your employer did not give you sufficient notice of your return. If you would like a specialist maternity lawyer to help with your employment and maternity leave situation Patron Law can help.
Employer of employee on maternity leave
You must not subject an employee to any detriment by acting or deliberately failing to act, because she took maternity leave or sought to take maternity leave. It could be seen as maternity and/or sex discrimination if you treat an employee detrimentally by denying a woman promotion, pay rises, benefits and pay, facilities or training which she would have had access to but did not because of taking maternity leave or a reason connected to this. The compensation which could be awarded to an employee if their discrimination claim is successful, is uncapped in an Employment Tribunal.
If an employee is on maternity leave during a redundancy process and her job is at risk of redundancy, the employee on maternity leave takes priority over other staff at risk of redundancy and you must offer her, before her current contract ends, any suitable alternative vacancies, where one is available. The job must be suitable and appropriate for her and the terms and conditions must not be substantially less favourable than under her previous contract. If you dismiss the employee without doing this, the dismissal may be unfair and she may also have a claim for sex discrimination. If there is no suitable alternative employment or this is offered and unreasonably refused by the employee a dismissal is more likely to be fair, so long as there is no discriminatory reason for the dismissal and the correct dismissal procedure has been followed.
The dismissal of an employee will be automatically unfair if you dismiss her or select her for redundancy because she has taken maternity leave or a reason connected with this. Patron Law can help with questions about an employee on maternity leave or about to take maternity leave, their rights and your employer obligations.