Pregnant women can be sacked in rounds of redundancies, EU's top court rules

Pregnant women can be sacked by their employers as part of collective redundancies, the EU’s top court has ruled.

In a case brought against state-owned Spanish lender Bankia, Jessica Porras Guisado challenged the company’s decision to make her redundant during the course of her pregnancy.

EU laws prevent employees losing their jobs from the start of their pregnancy until the end of their maternity leave except in exceptional cases which are not connected with their condition.

But the European Court of Justice ruled this is not the case when employers are making collective redundancies.

However, the ruling included the caveat that employers must explain the reason for the redundancies to the employee affected, as well as the criteria used to decide which employees would have to leave.

Last year, a damning report by watchdog the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that British businesses are losing hundreds of millions of pounds a year due to women being forced out of their jobs after having a baby.

It said the cost of redundancy payouts, lost productivity and hiring and training new staff amounted to about £280 million a year.

The watchdog added that more than one in 10 women are pushed out of their jobs after maternity leave – the equivalent of 54,000 women every year.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, said: “There is not just a moral and legal case for retaining women who are coming back to work, but a very strong financial case as well.”

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