I am due to return back to work in February and they have told me I have to redo my 3 months probation. I was wondering if they can do this and is it standard for all companies?
You have explained that you are due to return to work in February. I presume, therefore, that you are currently on maternity leave. Section 18 of the Equality Act 2010 deals with pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
Under Section 18, an employer discriminates against a woman if it treats her unfavourably because she is exercising or seeking to exercise, or has exercised or sort to exercise, the right to ordinary or additional maternity leave.
It is likely that requiring you to re-do your 3 month probationary period would amount to “unfavourable treatment” due to the fact that you have taken maternity leave. This is certainly not “standard” for all companies.
I recommend that you firstly contact your employer on an informal basis and explain that you are aware that companies do not usually require employees who have taken maternity leave, to re-do their probationary period and ask whether they could please reconsider this requirement. You can, of course, note that you understand that this would amount to maternity discrimination, if you think this would help at this stage. Hopefully, the Company will then agree that you do not need to re-do your 3 month probation. If the Company does not change its mind, then I would advise you to lodge a formal grievance in writing to the Company and specifically state that you understand that requiring you to re-do your 3 month probation would amount to maternity discrimination.
If the Company does not deal with your grievance properly and thus agree that you do not have to re-do your 3 month probation, or treats you to a detriment due to the fact that you have raised this as an issue, you would have a claim for maternity discrimination and potentially automatically unfair dismissal at the Tribunal.
If this matter is not therefore resolved to your satisfaction, please call me on 0161 975 3823 and I can advise you further as to your options.
Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.