Where an employee who lives in employer-provided accommodation becomes pregnant must the employer permit her to continue to live there after the birth?
Employees are entitled to their contractual benefits throughout their statutory maternity leave, including accommodation provided by the employer under the terms of the employment contract. If an employee lives in employer-provided accommodation, entitlement to the accommodation is likely to be expressly provided for in the contract of employment, or it may have arisen by custom and practice. An attempt to withdraw the employee's entitlement to stay in the accommodation during her maternity leave is likely to be a breach of contract. It is also likely to be pregnancy and maternity discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
There may also be a tenancy agreement, such as an assured shorthold tenancy, providing the employee with statutory and common law rights relating to the accommodation, in addition to any express or implied terms under the contract of employment.
If the employee's employment ends, for example if she gives notice that she does not intend to return to work, the employer may be able to require her to vacate the accommodation. This will depend on the nature of the agreement under which she is entitled to live there. If the employee is a licensee (eg if she is required to live on the employer's premises and does not pay rent) rather than a tenant, the employer can give her notice to vacate the tied accommodation when the employment ends. If she is a tenant, the employer can require her to vacate the accommodation at the end of the tenancy agreement (or if she breaches the terms of the tenancy).