Job being changed for maternity leave. What are my rights on return?

I have been at my company for a number of years and have had issues of bullying from the new director in recent months. This has been flagged and discussed multiple times with HR. I am pregnant and have just been told by the new director that they plan to advertise a lower grade for maternity cover role and bring in a new manager above me who will do most of my duties in my absence. I am concerned this will be an issue on return from maternity leave as I would not have a position to return to with the same level of responsibility and duties to return to. I’m not sure what action I need to take now to secure my position for my return.

Hand holding sign which says Maternity Leave


If you consider that you are being bullied at work and you do not feel that your concerns have been properly addressed you could consider formalising them in a grievance raised in line with your company’s grievance procedure. Not only will this place the company under an obligation to investigate your concerns, but it will create a formal record of them going forward.

In terms of your company’s decisions around your maternity cover, this is a matter for them and they are entitled to seek cover at whatever level/s they consider necessary. If it is the case the company actually considers your role to be redundant at this point in time (on the basis that they believe that the work you undertake can better be served by a more senior, management role) then they should discuss this with you and follow a redundancy consultation process. If, upon your return to work, the company opts to restructure the team within which you work and/or reallocate your duties on a permanent basis, then this might result in your being placed at risk of redundancy at that point. If your role is placed at risk of redundancy or is subject to some variation in terms then you will be entitled to the benefit of a consultation process at that time.

In terms of now, your employer does not need to notify you at this point whether your job might be at risk of redundancy at the point you are due to return to work from maternity leave and so in terms of what action you can take secure your position for your return, there is no legal action that you can take at this time.

Discussing your worries with HR might be an option for you, and keeping in touch with your employer throughout your maternity leave when you do start it might also prove to be of benefit to you on this occasion.

*Charlotte Geesin is Legal Director of Howarths, a Yorkshire based, award-winning Employment Law, HR, Business Immigration and Health & Safety provider for SMEs across the UK.

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