There have been a number of pregnancy and maternity-related employment tribunal rulings this year – we review what actions businesses should take
Guildford HR finds that many of its’ clients are not aware of their responsibilities in this area, we hope you find this short article useful, but it is a complex area, so please call us for further guidance.
Health and Safety
Pregnant workers need to have an H&S risk assessment, this should be done as soon as the employee has told you they are pregnant and this must be reviewed, including when an employee comes back to work and there may be a requirement to consider facilities for breastfeeding. All employers are responsible for H&S for all of their employees but we also recommend businesses review the latest COVID advice for pregnant employees.
Ensure that employees on maternity leave are given priority when offering suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation, even where other employees are better qualified for the role.
If there is only alternative work, ensure those on maternity leave are considered for the role.
Dismissing an employee because of pregnancy, childbirth or maternity is automatically unfair (s.99 of the Employment Rights Act 1996).
Employers should keep written records to avoid subsequent disputes about the timing of a decision to dismiss a pregnant worker and the reason(s) for dismissal. We remind employers, it would be unlawful to take disciplinary action against an employee who has a high level of absence due to her pregnancy-related sickness. However, if an employee committed gross misconduct that had nothing to do with their pregnancy, the records would then show that the employer completed the investigation as they would any other employee.