Maternity & Redundancy

Facing redundancy is a bewildering experience at the best of times, even more so if you are on maternity leave and may have been out of the workplace for sometime.

The law recognises that women on maternity leave can be particularly vulnerable to redundancy and offers some additional rights by way of protection.

Edinburgh Birth and Baby team member, employment law firm Ergo Law addresses common questions asked by women on maternity leave facing redundancy.

Can I be made redundant during my maternity leave?
The short answer is yes. Contrary to popular belief, you can lawfully be made redundant during your maternity leave provided the redundancy is genuine and your employer follows a fair redundancy process.

If you are selected for redundancy because you are pregnant or on maternity leave, this will count as an automatically unfair dismissal as well as discrimination.

What is a fair redundancy process?
Firstly, your employer must use non-discriminatory selection criteria to decide which employee(s) to make redundant. This could include skills, qualifications and disciplinary record.

If using criteria such as attendance, absence or performance, your employer must discount any absence or performance issues caused by your pregnancy or maternity.

Your employer must also consult with you during your maternity leave about the proposed redundancies, giving you as much warning as possible.

This will involve individual consultations, as well as collective consultations if your employer is making 20 or more employees redundant at the same time.

What should I expect from a redundancy consultation?
Your employer must talk to you about the reasons for the redundancies and the selection criteria that they will be applying.

They should also let you know how your redundancy selection assessment was carried out and allow you to put forward any suggestions you might have for alternatives to redundancy.

Finally, your employer should give you a preferential right to any suitable alternative vacancy that might be available by offering the position to you first before those who are being made redundant but are not on maternity leave or pregnant.

What is suitable alternative employment?
In order to be considered suitable, the vacancy must be no less favourable than your previous job in terms of location, status and terms and conditions.

It is important to note that if you do unreasonably turn down an offer of suitable alternative employment, you will lose your right to a redundancy payment.

Find out more about your financial entitlement in the event of a genuine redundancy by visiting our website .

What about my maternity pay?
If you qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) your employer is liable to continue paying this for the remainder of the SMP period even if you are made redundant however any enhanced contractual maternity pay (in excess of SMP) is likely to cease when your employment is terminated.

Contact us for advice.
If you are facing redundancy during maternity leave and your employer has not followed a fair redundancy procedure, or you have reason to believe that this is not a genuine redundancy, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal, automatic unfair dismissal and/or maternity discrimination.

There are strict time limits for bringing these claims in an employment tribunal, so it is important to act quickly.

We are very experienced with advising employees who find themselves in this difficult situation and pride ourselves on our compassionate and straightforward approach.

We would love to speak to you about how we can help, so please do get in touch.

Should you wish to know more about your rights during pregnancy and maternity leave, you may find this read useful.

Self Care Do’s and Don’ts for New Mums

Self care is such a big term right now and the need to look after ourselves but what do we really mean by it?

Why do we need to care about self care?
1. You cannot be the best parent you can be if you don’t have your own needs met
2. We are meant to share parenting in communities and tribes not on our own
3. Life is busy – we are overloaded juggling motherhood, work, relationships, friends, constant noise from screens/social media and our brains are frazzled
4. We have never parented so much – we now spend TWICE as much time with our kids as the typical 1960s housewife
How can you integrate self care?
Self care does not need to be complicated or something else to add to your to do list – it’s incorporating lots of little habits of wellbeing into your everyday life.
Here’s some ideas to think about
DO’s
• Eating well – it’s easy to end up eating rubbish food when you’re stressed/bored/fed up/exhausted. Whilst that might satisfy an immediate need, it can make you feel worse.  We know that the gut can influence the brain so think about what your brain needs to function well.
• Silence – motherhood can mean that our brains are frazzled from constant noise of kids, tv, social media.  Spend time each day in silence.  Just a few minutes of mindful silence will allow your brain to stop processing.  Maybe try this in this morning, or if your kids sleep or rest at lunchtime.  Or in the car before you leave work or pick up your kids from nursery.  Literally noticing a few minutes of silence.
• Journaling  – journaling has so much evidence behind it and how effective it can be. Use it as a place to allow your feelings to come to the surface, to notice what’s bothering you, to write your goals and affirmations, to keep your gratitude list.  Spend 5-10 mins each day doing this and you will see huge improvements in how you feel.
• Exercise – we all need exercise a few times a week.  It doesn’t need to be complicated.  There’s loads of home workouts and yoga classes on youtube/online as well as in person classes. And of course, you can’t beat a walk in nature.
• Friends and family – make time for friends and family in person each and every week.  Even if you can’t physically see them, pick up the phone and chat, have a zoom call, make plans.  We are social creatures and we need conversation.
• Learn how to regulate your nervous system – the demands of motherhood can lead to a nervous system that’s completely dis-regulated leaving you feeling frazzled, burned out and exhausted. Learn EFT/Meditation/Breath work/Yoga Nidra and other many approaches and integrate these into your daily life.  There’s loads of resources available on line.
• Learning to say no – it’s ok to say no, not feel that you need to do everything and prioritise yourself.  We are brilliant at putting other people ahead of ourselves and it can impact us.  Get comfortable learning to say no.
• Leaving it till tomorrow – leave things to tomorrow is allowed – emails, messages, people, housework etc can wait.  And equally releasing that expectation from others that they must reply immediately.
• Sleep – our sleep can be affected with babies and toddlers who don’t sleep more than 2 hours in a row… prioritise your sleep and rope in help so you can get sleep and catch up during the day.
• Zone out – books, films, binge-watching series on Netflix are all good for your mental wellbeing – don’t ever feel guilty for prioritising some zone out time over replying to those emails
DON’Ts
• Alcohol – a lot of us can turn to alcohol as both a stress management tool and a way to unwind yet we know alcohol can be damaging to our mental wellbeing.  If you’re feeling stressed, use other stress relieving tools rather than turning to alcohol.
• Screen time – we are all so connected to our phones and yes they serve a purpose as well as allow us to keep in touch with our mum friends. They also can make us feel pretty rubbish and detrimental to our sleep. Try to have some phone free days and def no phones overnight.

Keeping you well is one of the least selfish things you can do – self-care is so vital – after all, we all know the saying – ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup.’

If you’re a mum who is feeling frazzled and burned out, chat to  Tricia Murray and find out what support she can offer you to help you feel better.