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Employment Law Myths Debunked #2. You can’t dismiss an employee who is pregnant or on maternity leave

In this second of a series of 5 articles Annie Gray addresses 5 common employment law myths. In this article Annie looks at the common misconception that you can’t dismiss an employee who is pregnant or on maternity leave.

Myth 2 - You can’t dismiss an employee who is pregnant or on maternity leave

Yes you can.

Employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave will have some enhanced rights as a result of their pregnancy/maternity, This includes being entitled to receive SMP if they are dismissed after a certain point in their pregnancy, regardless of their dismissal, and being entitled to “first refusal” of any suitable alternatives jobs if they find themselves in a redundancy situation during maternity leave. However, they are not exempt from dismissal purely because of the fact that they are pregnant or are on maternity leave.

Dismissing such an employee will (understandably) make employers nervous about the risk of the employee alleging discrimination on the grounds that the reason, or principal reason for their dismissal was the fact of their pregnancy or maternity. However, provided that the genuine reason for dismissal is unrelated to the fact of the employee’s gender, their pregnancy or maternity leave, and provided that the correct procedure is followed, it can be fair to dismiss an employee who is pregnant or on maternity leave.

If you would like more information regarding dismissals and maternity rights speak to one of our solicitors on 0113 220 6270. Find out more about our employment services here.

About the Author

Annie Gray

Associate

Primarily acting for employers and senior executives, Annie advise PLC's, private limited companies,…

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