What happens if you need to make an employee redundant when they’re on maternity leave? It’s a difficult choice for your business, so you’ll need to approach the decision carefully.

It’s essential you know the legal rights your staff member has—this guide explains everything you need to know to stay legally compliant.

Losing job while on maternity leave

As an employer, there are three ways you can make an employee on maternity leave redundant.

  1. If the business enters bankruptcy, on a temporary or permanent basis.
  2. Should you move location and the member of staff can no longer reach you.
  3. When you have fewer staff members required for your current projects.

It’s essential to remember that you can’t make a female employee redundant as she’s on maternity leave or pregnant.

If you did, this would breach UK law under unfair dismissal and pregnancy or maternity discrimination.

You should establish in your employment contract the rules you have regarding maternity leave. That way your team is clear on your regulations regarding any time off from work.

Remember that ordinary maternity leave (OML) lasts for 26 weeks. Any additional time off (AML) starts at the end of the first stint—the extra time can last for 26 weeks.

Statutory maternity pay (SMP) rights

If you make a staff member redundant, what should you keep in mind about SMP?

The employee can’t claim SMP if they’re made redundant before their maternity leave qualify week—the 15th week before their baby is due.

Your staff member can claim it if they:

  • Worked for you through a period of at least 26 weeks by the time of their qualifying week.
  • Be in employment with you in all, or part of, their qualifying week.
  • Hold a salary of £116 (until April 2019) in the two months before their leave begins.

For employees made redundant in, or after, their qualifying week, they can still receive 39 weeks’ worth of SMP.

For them to claim this money, they have to provide you with at least 28 days’ notice of when they want to start their SMP. They’ll also need to provide you with a Maternity Certificate—the MATB1—that will state the week their child is due.

The employee’s GP or midwife will provide them with this after around 20 weeks of pregnancy.

If the member of staff doesn’t meet the condition required for SMP, they can still claim Maternity Allowance. This is available from their nearest Jobcentre Plus. As a result, your employee may ask you to provide them with an SMP1 form that explains why they’re not receiving SMP.

Redundancy after maternity leave

If your member of staff is being made redundant after maternity leave (as in, they’re returning after their time off), British law protects your staff from unfair treatment and dismissal.

Your employee can claim for either if you dismiss them without a clear reason. It can also end with an employment tribunal.

Need more help?

We can help you with all of your maternity leave questions. Contact us today for immediate help: 0800 028 2420.