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Can we make an employee on maternity leave redundant?

Q: Our company is restructuring and many roles will be made redundant. Can we make employees on maternity leave redundant?

A: You can lawfully effect a redundancy during a period of parental leave provided that the fact of the employee being on parental leave has no influence on the decision to make them redundant.

Further, there are specific obligations in relation to employees who are on parental leave. An employer is required to discuss changes with the employees that are likely to have a significant impact on the employee’s position. An employer is also required to give the employee information about proposed changes – this includes providing reasons for the decision. This is essentially because employees who are on parental leave during this period are at a natural disadvantage in respect of the consultation process.

It is good practice to give the employee who is to be made redundant the option of taking the redundancy package during their leave or to wait until the leave is over to see whether there are any other opportunities in the business at that time.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Redundancy and retrenchment for current advice.

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