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I’m currently on maternity leave and there is a proposal currently in its consultation phase where my role has been ‘removed’. The positions available for me to apply for would all mean an effective demotion and reduction in pay. Can my employer do this? In addition, I was told that a position that was available whilst on maternity leave was full-time and could not be part time. I now discover that that is not true and someone is doing that role in 4 days (I also work 4 days, so would have applied for the role had I known). Where do I stand with this?
In a situation where there is a reorganisation resulting in an overall reduction in jobs, an employer can make an employee on maternity leave redundant. The employee is entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy (where one is available) immediately after the existing contract ends. Therefore, an employer can start the consultation process whilst an individual is on maternity leave and there may not be suitable alternative employment available. If, however, once an employee on maternity leave has been identified to be at risk of redundancy, she is entitled to be offered suitable alternative employment in priority to other potential redundant employees.
In relation to the potential four-day role that you were not aware of, you should have been made aware of this, and this could potentially amount to discrimination. If you had not been on maternity leave, you would have been aware of this vacancy.
I suggest you raise it with the HR department and query why you were not made aware of this role, as you should have been and also you should have been given priority to this role.