[DAYS_LEFT] days left of your Medeconomics free trial

Subscribe now

Your free trial has expired

Subscribe now to access Medeconomics

Pregnant employee dismissal

Q: We employed a staff member on a month's trial period (which she scraped through) but after employing her for eight months we have concluded that her performance really isn't up to the standard required - although she says we are underpaying her. Also, she has just told the practice manager that she is pregnant. If we 'let her go' will we risk an unfair dismissal claim?

Pregnancy: if a dismissal is based on performance and not pregnancy, this will need to be proved
Pregnancy: if a dismissal is based on performance and not pregnancy, this will need to be proved

A: The qualifying period for the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim changed on 6 April 2012.

Employees who began their employment on or after this date will generally need to accrue two years' service (not one year as previously) by the time their employment ends in order to bring an unfair dismissal claim.

Although your staff member may not be able to bring an unfair dismissal claim, she may be able to bring a discrimination claim given that no qualifying period of employment is required for such a claim.

In addition, if she has raised any health or safety issues, or issues about criminal or other wrongdoing, she would be able to bring a 'whistle blowing' claim.

You must pay her the sums she is due under her contract or she can bring a claim. In addition, dismissal for asserting a statutory right is automatically unfair, and no qualifying period of employment is necessary to bring a claim.

Having a meeting with the employee and explaining the reasons for terminating her contract is a wise precaution.

It would be sensible to retain any relevant contemporaneous documents showing her poor performance and keep them for at least six months, as she would have a three-month period to lodge a claim. Sometimes the period can be extended.

The dismissal letter should explain why she has been dismissed - that is, unfortunately, her performance did not reach the required standard.

It is automatically unfair to dismiss employees because they are pregnant or for a maternity related reason.

If the real reason for the dismissal is poor performance, then you will need to be able to show that this is genuine, and not connected with pregnancy or maternity.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.

Database of GP Fees




Latest Jobs