More Protection For Mothers Returning from Maternity Leave
Under current UK law, women are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, 39 weeks of which are paid. But returning back to work is not always plain sailing.
Currently, the average self-employed mother will take 23 weeks off work as maternity leave and according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, research suggests 54,000 women lose their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity leave every year. They also found that 1 in 9 women were fired or made redundant when returning to work after having a child, or felt forced out of their job after poor treatment.
Thankfully things are set to change. Recent government plans will see new parents receive more protection against redundancy when returning to work.
A consultation has begun on proposals to continue legal protection against redundancy which pregnant women and new mothers already have if they are employees or ‘workers’. The proposals call for this to protection to be extended for up to 6 months after their return to work.
They will also look into whether this should also be offered to parents returning to work after adoption leave or shared parental leave therefore including men who take time out from work to care for a new child.
Hilary Hall, NHF/NBF chief executive commented on the news saying: “We know that many hair and beauty salons are struggling to recruit qualified and experienced staff. Most will welcome employees returning from maternity leave with open arms and will do everything they can to keep new mothers on the team.”
Unfortunately the new proposals won’t include self-employed women. These ladies will still be able to rely on Maternity Allowance to keep them afloat whilst away from work, the amount of which is set to increase. Currently set at £145.18 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lowest) for 39 weeks, this allowance amount will be going up in April to £148.68 as will statutory Maternity Leave.