Maternity cover rules if someone is not returning after leave

A staff member has resigned while on maternity leave and will not be returning. Can we offer her job to her maternity cover, even though her maternity leave does not end for some time?

Hand holding sign which says Maternity Leave

 

I’m not clear from your query whether the employee on maternity leave has resigned with immediate effect, purely given her contractual notice period, or given longer notice with an end date to coincide with her expected return from maternity leave.  I’m assuming it is to coincide with her return date for the purpose of my next comments.

On the face of it, if you have the resignation confirmed in writing with a clear termination date and an indication that she has no intention of returning to work prior to the termination date, the risk of confirming the other person in post seems quite low.  The key thing to bear in mind, however, is that your employee could still decide to give eight weeks’ notice to return to work early from maternity leave in order to work up to the termination date.  It seems quite unlikely that this would happen, but if you wanted to be more cautious, you could offer the permanent post to start eight weeks before the employee’s official termination date.

*Marie Horner is an experienced senior employment law specialist at ALT Legal in Wetherby. 



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