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I am currently on maternity leave. I was contacted a week after giving birth that there was a reorganisation within the NHS hospital that I’m employed by. When I received the consultation paper my role is the only one that has been merged with another two roles, creating fewer new matron roles. I have been informed that my role will continue to exist until my return. However, I can apply for one of the new matron roles if I so wish which are much bigger in speciality cover. I have questions which my HR advisor appears unable to answer. If on my return from additional maternity leave my role doesn’t exist, should I be offered a suitable position and if there is not one available where do I stand? As my baby is only five weeks old now and being breast fed 24/7 every two hours and I can’t see this changing for months and I am unable to drive after having a Caesarian section and I am suffering from a lack of sleep would I be expected to attend an assessment and interview panel or should I be allocated one of the new roles in the new structure?
The Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 (Regulation 10) states that if a redundancy situation arises during an employee’s maternity leave the employee is entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, insofar as this exists.
The new job should be suitable and appropriate for you and the terms on which it is offered should not be substantially less favourable than the terms of your old job. This means that your employer should give you priority over the other employees who are at risk of redundancy.
Provided the new role is “suitable” and appropriate for you, your employer should offer this to you and not require you to go through a competitive interviewing process. There should also be scope for your employer to offer you a trial period for this role.
You should remind your employer about Regulation 10 and get as much information about the new role as possible and the terms on which it is offered. You should then explore, with your employer, whether this new role is suitable.
If your employer does fail to offer you the new role, provided the new role is suitable and not on less favourable terms than your old job, if your employer then dismisses you, your dismissal should be automatically unfair.