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I’m currently on maternity leave for the second time. When I returned to work after my first child, flexible working was agreed and my role changed from five days to three. I’ve now been told that my role will be made redundant (marketing manager), along with a part-time colleague (sales executive) to make way for a new full-time position (marketing and sales manager). This is exactly the same job that the two of us have been doing, it’s just been given a different title and requires a full timer. Is this legal or do I have grounds to appeal?
Firstly, I hope that you have been enjoying your maternity leave. I assume that you are coming to the end of this from your question, but how you wish to address your concerns may be influenced by this and I would recommend you take specific advice. I have summarised below some key points relevant to your question.
For an employer to dismiss fairly for redundancy, they have to identify that there is a genuine redundancy situation that fits within the statutory definition. In this case, it sounds like the employer would look to argue that they have a reduced requirement for employees to carry out the particular type of work, which is being replaced by a combined position. However, there is an issue with this if the amount of work overall has not changed and if it simply reflects a desire to replace part-time positions with a full-time employee. These issues effect whether the situation can correctly be identified as a redundancy situation and could lead to an unfair dismissal (assuming you have more than two years’ service) and other possible complaints.
Where an employer has decided that they need to make redundancies, they then need to consider which employees are affected by the situation and follow a full consultation process. This should include notifying the employees that there is a risk of redundancy, confirming which employees are in the selection pool and arranging consultation meetings to discuss the proposals. I am not certain whether this process has been concluded from your question? Even though you are on maternity leave, you should be invited to participate in this process.
The consultation is your opportunity to challenge the basis for the redundancy, raise concerns (including whether they are simply trying to replace two part-time roles with a full-time employee) and explore any other alternatives to redundancy. The employer should take account of your concerns and address them as a part of the process. If this does not happen and they still confirm the decision, then you would certainly have grounds to appeal and should be provided with details of how to raise your appeal. This should be heard by someone who was not involved in the original process. Depending on how this proceeds there may be other claims.
As a part-time employee, you are protected from less favourable treatment because of your part-time status and you are also protected from any less favourable treatment because you have taken maternity leave. If you consider that these factors have influenced the decision-making process, then again you should raise these concerns with your employer. Where you think the reason is connected to your part-time status, you can also request a written statement of the reasons for the less favourable treatment.