How to deal with employees on fixed-term contracts who are pregnant or on maternity leave
Author: Jill Sutherland
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- Be aware that pregnant employees on fixed-term contracts are likely to have most, if not all, of the employment rights that employees on permanent contracts have.
- Be aware that it will be unlawful pregnancy and maternity discrimination to reject an applicant for fixed-term employment, or to withdraw an offer of fixed-term employment, because the applicant is pregnant.
- Remember that if enhanced contractual maternity benefits are provided to permanent employees, these must also be provided to fixed-term employees, unless the difference can be objectively justified.
- Appreciate that pregnant employees on fixed-term contracts have the same entitlement to statutory maternity leave and pay as those on permanent contracts.
- Bear in mind that, although statutory maternity leave will come to an end on the expiry of a fixed-term contract, the right to statutory maternity pay continues, if the employee already qualifies for it.
- Take into account that the non-renewal of a fixed-term contract is a dismissal, and that a dismissal for reasons related to pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave will be unlawful.
- Be aware that there is no requirement to extend or renew a fixed-term contract that expires during the maternity leave period, as long as there is a fair reason for non-renewal, and a fair procedure is followed, but remember the employee's right to a written statement of reasons for dismissal.
- Do not forget that, while it is possible to make employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave redundant, a fair redundancy process will be required.
- Be aware that employees on maternity leave will have priority in being offered suitable alternative employment to avoid redundancy.