Welcome but more to do say midwives on pregnancy discrimination announcement

on 24 July 2019 Pregnancy Maternity Discrimination Flexible Working

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has this week announced that pregnant women and new parents will get enhanced redundancy protections. Legal protections against redundancy will be extended by six months for new mothers returning to work. 

Commenting Alice Sorby, Employment Relations Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: "Being pregnant and then caring for a new baby can be challenging enough without the spectre of discrimination at work and job loss. So this will be welcome and long overdue news for women. For too long too many have faced discrimination when returning to work following maternity leave without adequate legal protection.

“The RCM responded to this consultation and we are pleased that they listened to many of our concerns. We hope that the promised taskforce looking at how to improve the working lives of parents includes issues such as flexible working. We believe that developing workplace policies in partnership with trade unions that support a positive work life balance and promote flexible working are key to keeping parents and those with caring responsibilities in work.


“We are disappointed that the announcement does not include a prohibition on redundancy in pregnancy and for six months afterwards. This was recommended by the Women and Equalities Select Committee report on pregnancy discrimination in 2016. *

“This announcement will also be good news for many midwives and maternity support workers, the vast majority of whom are women working for the NHS. We expect the NHS to be an exemplary employer and to go beyond the statutory minimum. This includes better policies on issues such as facilities for breastfeeding or expressing milk and flexible working arrangements”


“This is a welcome and positive step in the right direction bringing greater protection in the workplace for those returning to work following parental leave. This is the continuation of a process for better rights for pregnant women and families and we need to see these improve even more.”

The ‘Good Work Plan: pregnancy and maternity discrimination consultation’ document can be read athttps://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/819696/pregnancy-and-maternity-discrimination-consultation-government-response.pdf.

To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]

Note to editors

* The Women and Equalities Select Committee report on pregnancy discrimination in 2016 stated that the law should prohibit redundancy from notification of pregnancy until six months after return from maternity leave, except in specified circumstances, such as closure of all or part of a workplace. The RCM supported this recommendation.


The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website athttps://www.rcm.org.uk/.