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I’m currently on maternity leave and have just been notified that I am at risk as my role no longer exists because the company is being restructured. Mine and my manager’s role are being combined. They said they hoped/assumed I would apply for the new role. However, it’s a full-time role and I work part time (three days per week). They said there are no part-time roles in the new structure. Where do I stand on this, legally? If there are no part-time roles available to apply for, isn’t this illegal or constructive dismissal? What are my rights?
I note that you are currently on maternity leave, although you do not state when your maternity leave started or when it is due to end. It is also unclear how long you have been employed by your current employer (‘the Company’) or how many roles have been affected by the restructure. If you do have any concerns about the fairness of your selection for redundancy and require further advice about this, you will need to provide the above information.
As a general point and based on the information you have provided, your employer should have an obligation under Regulation 10(1) of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 to make you the first offer of suitable alternative employment insofar as this exists within the organisation. If the Regulation is applied properly in your case, you should not need to apply for the new combined role. This should be offered by your employer on contractual terms which are not substantially less favourable than your current terms, provided the alternative/combined new role (”the role”) is suitable and appropriate.
The question of whether the role is suitable and appropriate is one to be determined objectively by your employer, based on your employer’s knowledge of your personal circumstances and your experience.
From your submission, the only aspect of the role which appears to be of concern is that your employer intends that this role and all others in the new structure should be full time. If your employer is indeed applying this rule that everyone should be full time across the new structure, this could amount to indirect sex discrimination, with particular reference to part time workers, including you. As a consequence, any resulting dismissal could not only be discriminatory but also unfair.
If you have not already done so, you should ask your employer for the contractual terms and job description for the new role. You should then advise your employer that you do wish to accept the new role, insofar as this is correct, and remind them that there is no requirement for you to apply for this role as provided for by Regulation 10(1). You should then advise that you do also wish to perform this role part time. If your employer insists that this is not possible, you should ask why. Once you have the above information, you should obtain further specialist employment law advice before taking any further action.