Q: I am having a difficult pregnancy due to being diabetic and have had to take a lot of time off work sick, outside my basic maternity leave entitlement. I was furloughed under the government scheme until the end of September and had only been back at work a few weeks when I fell pregnant. The pregnancy was not planned. Now my boss has emailed to tell me he is going to have to let me go as the business needs to make cut-backs. However, three male colleagues who do the same work as me, but have not been there as long as me, are keeping their jobs. Do I have a case for discrimination?
A: There are several facets to your situation that would need to be considered, and there is likely to be an overlap of the legislation applicable to them.
The first question is whether you can be made redundant whilst pregnant or on maternity leave, and the answer is yes you can. However, you cannot be made redundant because you are pregnant or on maternity leave. If you are, then this counts as ‘automatic unfair dismissal’ and discrimination. The fact that your male colleagues are not being made redundant suggests you may have been singled out because of your pregnancy.
The next factor to consider is your diabetes. From what you say, it would appear you are currently on sick leave because of your diabetes being affected by your pregnancy. Whilst being made redundant when on sick leave is permissible, there are rules to protect you against discrimination. When deciding whom to make redundant an employer can take sickness records into account -unless the sickness relates to a disability. And diabetes is classed as a disability, albeit it an ‘invisible’ disability.
When you receive written confirmation of your threatened redundancy you should make an appointment to see a local employment solicitor as soon as possible.
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