Women on furlough failing to tell their employers when they fall pregnant, could jeopardise their rights warns Brindley Twist Taff & James.
The firm, which has offices in Coventry, Warwick, Southam and Balsall Common, believes that there is a risk ‘mothers to be’ on furlough may be tempted not to notify their employers of their pregnancy, partially because they think they may get receive more money on furlough, or if they are worried about redundancies, fears of being discriminated against, or even simply because they believe they do not have to tell their employers they are pregnant.
However, ‘keeping mum’ could compromise their position which would otherwise have been protected.
Pregnant employees have several safeguards under legislation such as:-
- Under the Equality Act 2010 which prohibits discrimination against employees because of the “protected characteristic” of pregnancy and maternity during the “protected period”.
- Employment Rights Act 1996 which sets out rights to health and safety, time off for ante-natal care, maternity leave and unfair dismissal.
- Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 which set out a woman’s entitlement to maternity leave and the notification requirements.
Legally, employees are obliged to notify their employer they are pregnant 15 weeks before their due date. At this point, the employee can tell their employer when they wish to stop work to have a baby and the day they want their statutory maternity to start.
Cases of employers being unsupportive or uncooperative with employees who are ‘mums to be’ have thankfully become few and far between.
In light of this, BTTJ solicitors have provided an insight into the rights of pregnant women working in the pandemic and what protections they have against discrimination or unfair treatment.
Once the employer is informed by the employee that they are pregnant, the employee is then protected against unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy-related discrimination.
If informing an employer by the deadline is not possible for reasons such as the employee was unaware of their pregnancy, then the employer must be informed as soon as possible.
Once told of their employee’s pregnancy, an employer will be required to carry out a workplace assessment to ensure the workplace is safe enough for them to work in, when they are return for furlough.
Kerry Hudson, Head of Employment at Brindley, Twist, Tafft and James commented: “There is a risk that women on furlough may neglect telling their employers they are pregnant simply because they are not aware of their obligation to do so or because they are concerned that they will be treated unfavourably or even be first in line for redundancy –especially at a time when redundancy rates remain high across the UK.
“However, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, employees who tell an employer about their pregnancy are actually more protected than their co-workers.
“Under current legislation it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of being pregnant, so by failing to inform an employer of a pregnancy, employees are doing themselves a huge disservice as they’re essentially relinquishing their right to be protected under the legislation .
“If anything, an employee who is pregnant has enhanced rights when it comes to selection criteria for redundancy.”
With around 16% of the UK workforce still on furlough, BTTJ has also warned mums to be that failing to notify their employer puts them at risk of not being able to access all their entitlements.