Yes, you must treat her the same way as any other job applicant, except you may have to wait for her to start work if she is on maternity leave. You can discuss when she might start.
You must not reject her because she:
- is on maternity leave or
- has just taken maternity leave, or
- is about to go on maternity leave
It would be maternity discrimination if, because of her maternity leave, you:
- refused to interview her or did not appoint her to a job if she was the best candidate
- gave her a job for a limited period instead of permanent employment
- insisted she started work when she was on maternity leave unless she agreed, or
- offered her a lower salary or other different, less favourable terms.
Yes, after you have appointed the applicant, she may ask to work part-time or to have a different working pattern. There is no ‘right to apply for flexible working’ until she has been employed for 26 weeks //www.acas.org.uk/flexibleworking. However, a refusal of her request may be indirect sex discrimination, if your refusal cannot be justified.
Indirect sex discrimination is where there is a provision, such as full-time working applied to everyone, which particularly disadvantages women compared to men, and which the employer cannot show is necessary for the business link. You should consider carefully whether the job could be done in the hours or pattern the employee has requested.
Yes, you do have to consider an employee for promotion it she is on maternity leave. Failure to do so would be maternity discrimination. You should consider all employees in the same way. You may need to make some adjustments for employees who have been on maternity leave if they might be disadvantaged by their absence, for example by missing out on work developments.
You might suggest that an employee on maternity leave comes into the office for a Keeping in Touch day to catch up on any developments so she is not disadvantaged by her absence. However, this should be the employee’s choice.
Yes, if you are advertising a new job you should tell an employee on maternity leave and she should be given an opportunity to apply for the job if she wants.
You may need to adjust the interview date if it is planned to be near the time of the birth. An employee should not be disadvantaged because of being on maternity leave, though this does not mean you have to wait until the end of her maternity leave to have the interview. It is best to discuss timing with her.
Last updated: 12 May 2016