Protections against redundancy for new parents returning to work should match those already in place during maternity leave, the Law Society of Scotland said today.
In its response to a UK Government consultation on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, the Society supports additional redundancy protections for those returning to work from maternity leave, shared parental leave and adoption leave. The consultation follows the Government’s commitment in response to the Taylor review of modern working practices.
The response states that issues regarding potential discrimination often arise after a woman has returned to work after maternity leave. "Women may find it difficult to 'fight their corner' in a redundancy exercise when they have been out of the workplace for up to year and feel vulnerable if they have less evidence to fall back on in redundancy exercises. They are also vulnerable to assumptions being made about their commitment to the job and the impact their childcare responsibilities may have on future performance."
Stuart Neilson, convener of the Society’s Employment Law Subcommittee, commented: "Following a return to work, new parents may be disadvantaged in a redundancy exercise when they have been out of the workplace for up to one year. They may also be vulnerable to assumptions being made about their commitment to the job and the impact that childcare responsibilities may have on future performance.
"Extending redundancy protection for a six-month period after returning to work strikes the right balance between the need to address potential disadvantages to new parents, and the need to provide flexibility to employers and respect for other employees facing redundancy. The extension would also help bring clarity and consistency to the legal position for employers and employees."
He added: "All parents, male or female, should have the same protection in connection with leave associated with the birth or arrival of a child. In these cases, the six-month protection period should start when the period of maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave ends."