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One in six redundancies agree they were chosen because they were parents.

Last year a survey carried out among redundant employees showed that those made redundant believed they were unfairly and unlawfully chosen because they were parents.

Law firm Slater and Gordon believes that some companies do not have a fair redundancy selection process. Furthermore, they make unlawful decisions based on characteristics which are protected under the Equality Act 2010. These include sex, age, and pregnancy.

Over the past year one in ten people made redundant felt that they were targeted because their employer believed they may become pregnant or they were pregnant.

Of all those who were asked about their redundancies, 74% expressed concern about the legality of their redundancy and the selection process. They also felt unable to challenge the result.

Employment lawyer at Slater and Dunn, Ruby Dinsmore stated that when some people were at risk of redundancy with some open positions remaining, a fair and objective selection process needed to be carried out to decide who is made redundant and who stays on.

A non-discriminatory selection process

This selection process should be non-discriminatory. Characteristics such as age, sex, race, and health should not have any part in the selection process.

Being influenced by characteristics constitutes indirect sex discrimination, such as when an employer selects a woman to make redundant because she has parental responsibilities. It is also unlawful to do so.

Slater and Dunn surveyed 1,000 people who had recently been made redundant with the results showing that many were parents who were given an ultimatum to choose between their careers and their families.

Of those made redundant two out of five stated that they had been pressured into choosing between a career and a family even before they were made redundant. Additionally, 30% stated that they had been openly challenged about their dedication to their work.

Of employees who were home schooling their children, and continuing to meet work targets, 23% received complaints from their managers about their performance.

Other people (19%) admitted that comments had been made about ‘parenthood risking their job security’, with 13% being placed on a performance review plan.

Ms Dinsmore stated that employers often assumed that parents with family commitments could not totally dedicate themselves to their work. This assumption could not be further from the truth.

Because women are mostly responsible for children, these incorrect assumptions, along with the harassment that many women face as a result, can amount to discrimination.

Of the people who were questioned, many claimed that they had not received the redundancy package they expected. Only 30% had expected to receive an enhanced redundancy payment with just 63% receiving the statutory redundancy package.

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