Department closure on maternity leave: ask the expert


I am currently on maternity leave and I will return to work in October. I work within the property department at a law firm and unfortunately it looks like the department may close. A similar role in another department would be completely unsuitable, given my property experience. What are my options? Can I request voluntary redundancy if this happens?

Answer by Vanessa Wheeler

From what you say it is a fair redundancy and you are not being selected because you are on maternity leave.  If a woman is  on maternity leave when she is made redundant she must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, if one exists, in priority to staff not on maternity leave.

I cannot comment on issues such as voluntary redundancy as this is something employers may offer at their discretion.  However, if you are made redundant, because your department closes, then you may be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment (dependant on years of service) or a contractual payment if your contract provides for this.

vanessaVanessa Wheeler advises employees and employers on all areas of employment law. Vanessa has substantial experience in: pregnancy and maternity discrimination (including advocacy before the employment tribunal); flexible working issues and extensive experience in relation to compromise agreements. In a previous role she was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to deal with pregnancy and maternity discrimination matters. Vanessa has commented on employment law for the Guardian and for BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. Vanessa can be contacted on 07852265 865 or Meet our Panel of Experts

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