It is believed over 50,000 women lose their jobs each year as a result of being pregnant or taking maternity leave. One in nine women surveyed by the Department for Business and Energy said they had been dismissed, made redundant or felt they had to resign following their return from having a child.
Following a government consultation, there are proposals to extend protections afforded to women during their maternity leave by 6 months, covering the period after their return. These protections will also be afforded to parents who take adoption leave or shared parental leave.
In announcing these proposals, Theresa May stated that the proposals are sign the UK intends to strengthen employment rights upon leaving the EU. The Government is also keen to point out that this goes above and beyond what is required by EU law.
Many had feared that leaving the EU, whose directives require the implementation of many of our current employment rights, would mean rights were lost as the Government sought to remove red tape that inhibited business.
Whilst no time frame has been given for the extensions it is possible it will come in either April 2019 or 2020, meaning employers with staff returning from parental leave this April will need to pay particular attention. It should also be pointed out that being a member of the EU would not have stopped the UK from introducing this extension of rights.