Where a redundancy will take effect before a woman goes on maternity leave is she entitled to preferential treatment with regard to being offered suitable alternative employment?
No. If a redundancy takes effect before the employee's maternity leave begins, the employer will not be under the strict obligation, under reg.10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3312), to offer her any suitable alternative vacancy she can perform (even if she is not the best candidate). This obligation is triggered only if the employee is made redundant during maternity leave.
The employer will be under an obligation to look for suitable alternative employment for the employee, in the same way as it would be if she were not pregnant. Having said that, employers should always be cautious about dismissing pregnant employees because of the risk of a pregnancy and maternity discrimination claim. The employer should ensure that it carries out a fair redundancy procedure and that the decision to select the employee for redundancy is made for reasons unrelated to her pregnancy.