Promotion role changed on maternity leave: ask the expert


Before I went on maternity leave my employers advertised some promotion opportunities internally.  It took them about 8 weeks to arrange interview dates and I went for the interview 2 weeks before my due date, but did manage to pass the interview. I was not appointed to the role until after I came back from maternity leave and then was given an equivalent role, rather than one of the roles I had applied for. I had thought that legally they should have appointed me to one of the roles I had applied for and then arranged maternity cover for that role.  Is the law clear on this point?

Answer by Vanessa Wheeler

If but for your maternity leave you would have been appointed into the role then potentially your employer has discriminated unlawfully by treating you less favourably because of your maternity leave.  If the discrimination had not occurred, arguably you would have been appointed into the new job and then at the end of your maternity leave you would have had the right to return to this job i.e. your new role.

If you want to pursue this get advice now as strict time limits apply to employment tribunal cases.  Ordinarily claims must be brought within three months less a day of the discrimination.  There are exceptions, but you should get advice promptly   And get pragmatic advice on the pros and cons of taking this further.

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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