I run a small company, of only myself, within a larger organisation. My colleague, who also ran a company of one, was made redundant just before I went on maternity leave. He then became my maternity cover, employed as a consultant. I was due to return to work this week, but was called last week into a redundancy consultation. They told me that my cover outsourced some parts of my job while I was away, and that they are changing some other parts of the job so now it will require a new skillset. I see no reason why I would be incapable of implementing any changes and doing the job. They said that it would not be possible to have two people in the job. As I’m in the redundancy meetings, it is clear that my maternity cover (male, grown-up children) will be taking over my job. He is now a consultant, so having him leave would cost nothing, while I have been there 13 years and due redundancy. A few months before I was due to return to work I spoke informally to the CEO about me returning part time and partly from home and he was happy for me to do so. My maternity cover worked part time and partly from home while I have been on maternity leave. This can’t be legal?
I am of the view that you have a potential argument for discrimination on the grounds of your maternity. The reason for this is that if there are to be changes to your role that gave rise to a redundancy situation, then you should have been consulted irrespective of whether you were on maternity leave or not.
Furthermore, you have not been given any opportunity to put forward your views about the potential redundancy and that you can do the amended role.
In addition, whilst their argument is acceptable, namely that they cannot have two people to do the one job, you are the employee and your maternity cover is as a consultant. Accordingly, your selection for redundancy also amounts to potential discrimination on the grounds of your maternity.
I am not sure where you are with the consultation process, but suggest that this is raised with your employer either now or during any appeal process.