Where a redundancy will take effect before an employee goes on maternity leave are they entitled to be 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 them any suitable alternative vacancy they can perform. 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 they 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 their pregnancy.

On 22 July 2019, the Government announced that it intends to extend the right to be offered suitable alternative employment so that it will apply from the point that the employee informs the employer of their pregnancy. It is not yet known when this extension will come into force.