• The Women and Equalities Select Committee has published its response to the government’s consultation on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents, supporting the proposed extension to cover the period from notification of pregnancy to six months after return from maternity leave, and agreeing its extension to other types of longer parental leave. It also recommended that large companies should be required to report on retention rates for women 12 months after returning from maternity leave and 12 months after lodging an application for flexible working, and that consultation on extending the time limit for pregnancy/maternity discrimination claims from 3 to 6 months be carried out swiftly.
  • Maria Miller MP, the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, subsequently introduced a 10-minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons, said to have cross-party support, which goes further than the government proposals. The Bill would prohibit employers from making employees redundant during pregnancy, maternity leave and for six months after the end of maternity leave, except where the employer ceases to carry on business where the pregnant woman or new mother is employed.
  • The TUC and Maternity Action have published new guidance for health and safety reps on “Pregnancy, breastfeeding and health and safety“. This emphasises the need for risk assessment prior to pregnancy notification, whenever the employer employs women of childbearing age; this general assessment should then be revisited on notification of pregnancy to review specific risks regularly as the pregnancy progresses. The guidance urges reps to challenge employers who claim that there are risks that cannot be removed once they are told that a woman is pregnant and instead say they have to move or suspend the worker, stating that there are very few hazards which cannot be controlled to ensure that all pregnant women are safe, not just those who have notified their employer.