Most of job taken away on maternity leave: ask the expert

I have taken 39 weeks maternity leave and am due to return to work in a couple of weeks.  I had a meeting a couple of weeks ago to discuss my return to work, and was disappointed to find that the position I had is no longer available.  The manager has decided to split my role into three separate jobs.  He has given two other people a number of the tasks I was doing on my own, and I feel I have been left with the best of a bad bunch!  He says that they had to reorganise the company due to business needs, but I was not included in any consultation process. As my job as it was no longer exists, should I not have been offered redundancy?  I have raised a grievance, but they say the job they are offering is of a similar nature and is suitable and appropriate – however if they have taken tasks off me, how can this be the case? Also, who’s opinion is it that it isn’t less favourable – as I see it, I am being given a lesser role, however they say it’s not.  Do I have to accept this?

You are entitled to twelve months maternity leave, which consists of six months ordinary maternity leave and six months additional maternity leave. Following the period of ordinary maternity leave you are entitled to return to the same job. However, after additional maternity leave you are only entitled to return on a similar role on the provision that the job is on the same terms and conditions.

If the Company had followed the redundancy process, they are required to offer you suitable alternative employment. Therefore, it is likely that the Company would have offered you this role in any event. If you did not accept the revised role the Company may have been entitled to withhold your redundancy pay if the role is considered as suitable alternative employment.

If you do not consider that the role is suitable you should appeal against the decision with your reasons. If you do not wish to return to the role that has been offered you may resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal, but these cases are difficult to win.

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