Can I be forced to work from home?

I went on maternity leave in October. I was then TUPE transferred during my leave. Prior to my maternity leave, I was made aware that there may be a change to my working location in the future as a result of the TUPE. I am contracted to work out of an office. The personal measures statement I received, however, noted no change to location. During a KIT day, I saw a generic email stating that all UK employees were no longer allowed to work in the office. I raised this with my manager and after numerous conversations I have been told that I must work from home when I return to work. I advised prior to my leave and again recently that this is not an option for me due to childcare reasons. I believe this is therefore a redundancy situation. However, my employer is disputing this.

I understand that were TUPE transferred during your maternity leave. I understand that you have been advised that you must work from home when you return to work. This is a change in location for you. You advised prior to your maternity leave that working from home is not an option for you due to childcare reasons. You query whether this is a redundancy situation.

Generally speaking, when you return from additional maternity leave you have the right to return to the same job that you were doing before you left unless this is not reasonably practicable (for a reason other than redundancy), in which case, you have the right to return on terms and conditions no less favourable than those which would have applied had you not been absent. You would be able to argue that the fundamental change to your terms and conditions (in terms of location) is maternity/sex discrimination and you could potentially have a claim for constructive unfair dismissal if you resigned in response to your employer’s treatment of you (NB I would not advise you to resign without first taking specific legal advice). Any claim for pregnancy/sex discrimination must be brought within three months of the discriminatory act and you must go through the Acas pre-conciliation process before you can submit a claim.

Please note that your rights are slightly different if there is a redundancy situation. In this case you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy (where one is available) to start immediately after your existing contract ends. You would, of course, argue that homeworking is not a suitable alternative for you. I would need further information from you in order to advise you on whether a redundancy situation exists and your associated rights.

Furthermore, your terms and conditions of employment would also be protected if the business sale you describe is covered by the TUPE Regulations (as is likely to be the case). And changes where the sole or principal reason is the transfer will be void. As TUPE is such a complex area I would need further information from you to be able to advise in detail. If you do want us to review your position further for you, please contact Tracey Guest on 0161 672 1425.

*Helen Frankland assisted in answering this question.





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