Post being made redundant after maternity leave: ask the expert

I have been back at work for seven months after returning from maternity leave on a part-time basis three days per week. I have now been given a notice that my job is at risk of redundancy as they don’t have any need for two senior designers. They are making one team leader role and basically asking us both to if we want to apply for this position. It is set out as a full-time position, but it could be negotiable to be part-time if I can show them a strategy as to how I would approach it and if I think it could work. The other senior designer is full time at the moment so it feels like I am being unfairly put up against him and really it’s their way of getting rid of me. I have been offered statutory redundancy if I become redundant worked out on my part-time wage even though I have worked for the company for seven years and the majority of that was full time. Can you give me any advice?

There are protections from selection for redundancy because of pregnancy or maternity leave whilst you are in the “protected period” beginning with your pregnancy and ending at the end of your maternity leave. As you have been back at work for seven months, you are not protected by this legislation.

In a redundancy situation, a Tribunal will not look behind a business decision to reduce headcount and ask suitably “pooled” employees to apply for a role. Your employer’s actions thus far are unlikely to be questioned, particularly as they have indicated that they will consider the role on a part-time basis.

If you apply for the role but are unsuccessful, a Tribunal would have to look at the fairness of the selection. It can be difficult to challenge selection decisions without objective proof that you are more suitable for the role than the other applicant.

If you believe that your proposals for the role to be part time are not adequately considered, you could bring a claim for indirect sex discrimination on the basis that more women have caring responsibilities requiring them to work part time. Your employer would need to show that the requirement to work full time is justified.

If you are made redundant, your employer can calculate your redundancy pay based on your current salary.

If you think that you have been unfavourably treated, the first step would be to raise a grievance, or appeal against selection for redundancy, but if it is not possible to resolve the matter internally, you should seek specialist advice on your options. You should do so as soon as possible as there is a three month time limit to bring claims in the Employment Tribunal.

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