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Dismissal during pregnancy -- what are my rights?

(14 Posts)
Italophil Tue 06-Sep-11 17:13:24

Hello everyone, I was hoping you could help me get a better understanding of my rights in the following situation. The below description is a list of the circumstances and not supposed to imply any connection or cause.

- Employed with company for more than 4 years; 3 months notice period
- Announced pregnancy end of last week with intention to take maternity leave starting Feb 2012
- Informed of formal start of review process today verbally by boss (with him suggesting that informally I can either continue working for 3-4 months or agree on a compromise agreement; however, no concrete proposal was made)
- Boss left conversation very vague and open (I said only I would inform myself of my rights, and he said they would come back with a proposal)

What are my rights in this situation? Obviously a bit of a bummer as what they are implying is that I can either work until my maternity leave (or say around Christmas time) OR get my notice period paid. If I continued work, I guess I would get the 6 weeks 90 pct pay at least, as the cut-off is some time in November.

But I am wondering if there is anything else I am entitled to?
- Can the employer just tell me to leave and effectively only pay the notice period, or would I have more rights?
- Should I request anything in writing?

Incidentally, leaving aside the timing with respect to the announcement of my pregnancy, the company is not doing so well financially.

Any advice is much appreciated. Many thanks in advance!

hairylights Tue 06-Sep-11 19:04:17

Sorry to hear this.

What reason did they give? Have they said it's performance related or dies it relate directly to you being pregnant.

hairylights Tue 06-Sep-11 19:05:20

Or redundancy?

flowery Tue 06-Sep-11 19:40:22

"Can the employer just tell me to leave and effectively only pay the notice period, or would I have more rights?"

They are not allowed to do that whether you are pregnant or not. They can't just dismiss you. If your position is genuinely redundant they have to go through a proper redundancy process with consultation.

There are other reasons you can be dismissed but most of them require a lot of hoops to be jumped through - several disciplinary warnings, etc Doesn't sound like any of that is happening.

What do you mean by a 'formal review process'? What's being reviewed? What has your boss said is going to happen in 3 - 4 months?

If a dismissal is anything to do with your pregnancy that's illegal sex discrimination.

LittleWhiteWolf Tue 06-Sep-11 19:42:27

Did the dismissal come as a direct response of your announcing your pregnancy--it does look like that from your OP. If so then they're behaving illegally.

Italophil Wed 07-Sep-11 10:09:12

Thanks everyone.

The real reason they gave me is the state of the company. However, the timing with my pregnancy annoucement is obviously strange.

It is not a redundancy but a dismissal. What they meant with review is that they want to start the series of warnings. But they also wanted to come back with a proposal re termination package.

I guess my question is if they have to pay me the maternity pay on top?

I think I will give ACAS a call.

ColdSancerre Wed 07-Sep-11 10:13:28

Exactly what are they saying warrants the warnings and dismissal. Sounds very dodgy to me. They are saying they are giving you a series of warnings, with no chance for you to put right whatever it is you are being warned about.

Italophil Wed 07-Sep-11 10:22:37

correct, ColdSancerre -- that's the way I see it as well. They have made up their mind to lay me off (for company or pregnancy reasons, whatever the real reason is). And the "warnings process" is their fig leave to make sure this qualifies as a fair dismissal.

ColdSancerre Wed 07-Sep-11 10:32:01

They sound a bit stupid really. Hopefully it's a fairly straightforward case once you have support from ACAS. Good luck and don't let them get away with it.

alison222 Wed 07-Sep-11 10:51:44

this is from direct.gov which shows that if a company suddenly starts to give you bad reports or make you redundant then this is unfair dismissal - it is possible to make you redundant for business reasons but not due to your pregnancy. they would have to demonstrate the business case and that if they have any suitable alternative jobs going (that you have the skills to do) legally you have to be offered them in advance of anyone else in the company in a redundancy situation.

figgygal Wed 07-Sep-11 13:08:06

I know i posted on your other thread but reading what you have put here it just gets worse. If they were confident in what they were doing and that it was for the right reasons they wouldnt even be suggesting a termination package at the end of it they could dismiss you fairly without any further payment other than notice. Call their bluff ask them for evidence of your poor performance, details on action plans on how to improve, agree fair review timescales with them etc.

And as everyone is saying across both your threads get advice from somewhere - ACAS, CAB, do you have an employee wellbeing programme they often can provide legal support.

StillSquiffy Wed 07-Sep-11 14:09:12

I think the first thing you need to do is establish exactly what they are saying here, because I think you are confusing the specific terms being used here, and the exact terminology fundamentally shapes the advice you should be given.

1) If they are doing a 'performance review' of the current prospects of the business, and not a specific review of your individual performance within that business then they are undertaking a review which may lead to your redundancy, and not a dismissal
2) If they are undertaking a 'performance review' of whether your role in a particular department is needed or not going forward due to some kind of restructuring or whatever, that is also a potential redundancy situation and not a dismissal
3) Only if they have decided that your face no longer fits and that you need lots of appraisals and warnings about your specific role (because you are not measuring up in some way) are they talking about dismissing you, rather than making you redundant.

That's the first thing you need to tell us because it drives everything else.

FWIW even if they are calling it a 'redundancy' for 'business reasons', the key litmus test is whether they will be replacing you with somebody else. If so they are in deep deep shit. For all other situations, it depends.

StillSquiffy Wed 07-Sep-11 14:14:05

<footnote for any HR pedants: am aware that redundancy is a 'form' of dismissal, (potentially fair, etc, etc); thought it easier however to simplify the legal terms so as not to have to jump through a million hoops, so apologies if my shortform annoys anyone>

Italophil Wed 07-Sep-11 17:14:03

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate all the advice. I have spoken to the lawyer, and we will wait and see what they come back with in terms of proposal.

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