Redundancy concerns - maternity leave

Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting.

ASCL members concerned about leadership issues should call the Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email

Q: I am an assistant headteacher and I am on maternity leave. My school is currently undergoing a restructuring and redundancy process. Is it true that I cannot be made redundant if I am on maternity leave?

If you are on maternity leave you can be made redundant, but you cannot be made redundant because you are on maternity leave or indeed because you are pregnant. The law says:
  1. During the protected period (the beginning to the end of the maternity leave), unfavourable treatment of a woman because she is pregnant or on maternity leave is unlawful.
  2. A woman on maternity leave has the right to return to the same job before she left or, if not possible at the end of the 52 weeks’ maternity leave, then a suitable alternative must be found.
  3. Selecting a woman for redundancy because of her pregnancy, maternity leave or a related reason is automatically seen as unfair dismissal, as well as being unlawful discrimination.
  4. Failure to consult a woman on maternity leave about possible redundancy is likely to be unlawful discrimination.
  5. A woman made redundant while on maternity leave must be offered any suitable alternative vacancy and, if there is one available, she doesn’t need to apply for it. Acas has produced clear guidance for employers on this matter, but it is equally useful for employees.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission also has an excellent section on employment rights when pregnant or on maternity leave.

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