Being redeployed on maternity leave: ask the expert

I am currently on maternity leave and am 38 weeks pregnant and have just been informed I have been redeployed from a pool of people. I now have a few months to find a position in the public sector area I am employed in otherwise I will be issued with my redundancy notice. I am so worried regarding this. I didn’t think I would be redeployed. However, I had a bad relationship with my previous manager. I don’t want to worry really due to my pregnancy, but am hurt and tearful and have been all day. Please help.

I am sorry to hear that the latest situation in your employment is causing you such distress but that is not surprising this late on in the pregnancy. I am not clear from what you have said as to how many people are involved in the restructuring/redeployment process and whether consultation has taken place, but if you are in the public sector area, I am assuming that things in this regard will have been done by the book.

However, in relation to redeployment, if you go on maternity leave whilst this is still being considered, then you should be considered in priority for any suitable alternative vacancies. If not, then any dismissal would be automatically unfair and also if related to your pregnancy/maternity could amount to discrimination. It is not for you to find suitable alternative positions but for your employer.

Of course you can make suggestions, but you should not be put under this kind of pressure particularly at this stage in your pregnancy, not least because it might be putting your health and the health of the baby into question. It might be worth making this point to your employer as well as reminding them that they are under an obligation to try to find you something.

Unfortunately if they do make efforts to try to find you something and if there is nothing suitable, the employer is not under an obligation to create a job for you. Also, just because a job has not been found for you does not mean that there is discrimination just because you are pregnant or on maternity leave. You have to be able to show in this instance that you were treated less favourably. This might be difficult to show in a mass redundancy/redeployment exercise.

Nevertheless, I would make the health and safety and priority of alternatives point, first informally and if not in a formal grievance and see what that achieves. If you are then made redundant and given the basic minimum and you do not have any other income, it might be worth contemplating tribunal proceedings, although it would probably only be worth doing this if you could show a clear link between the employer’s behaviour and your pregnancy/ maternity.

Discrimination claims are uncapped unlike unfair dismissal so it would be more valuable to pursue. Given where you are in your pregnancy, however, this is probably the last thing you would like to contemplate at this stage, so in terms of timing, raise these issues before you go off so that at least the ball is in their court to respond. If you can then ask a friend or partner to assist you I am sure that this would take a considerable amount of stress out of the equation.

Best of luck with the issues you face and on the birth.

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