Maternity leave and suitable alternative employment

Multipage Guide

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  • Employers

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Where during a redundancy exercise alternative jobs are available in your organisation or with an associated employer, you should make sure these are offered to potentially redundant employees using criteria which do not unlawfully discriminate.

The situation is different if any of the potentially redundant employees is a woman on maternity leave.

In this situation, she does not have to go through selection against the criteria for filling a vacant post.

Instead, you must offer her any suitable available job with you, your successor (if your organisation is being taken over or passed onto another organisation), or any associated employer.

The offer must be of a new contract to come into effect as soon as the previous contract ends and must be such that:

  • the work is suitable and appropriate for her to do, and
  • the capacity, place of employment and other terms and conditions are not substantially less favourable than under the previous contract.

For example:

A company decides to combine its head office and regional teams and create a ‘centre of excellence’ in the location where the head office already is. A new organisation structure is drawn up which involves some head count reductions. The company intends that all employees should have the opportunity to apply for posts in the new structure. Those unsuccessful at interview will be made redundant. At the time this is implemented, one of the existing members of the head office team is on ordinary maternity leave. As such, she has a prior right to be offered a suitable available vacancy in the new organisation without having to go through the competitive interview process. 

Last updated: 19 Feb 2019

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

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