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Martin Searle Solicitors

FAQs: Maternity Discrimination At Work For Employees

Our Employment Law solicitors in Brighton and Eastbourne answer employees questions about maternity discrimination in the workplace.

1. I would like to return to work later than I originally notified my employer. What can I do?

2. I have used up my statutory maternity leave but would like to spend more time at home with my baby. Is this possible?

3. I would like to return to work part-time after my maternity leave. What shall I do?

4. I have contacted my employer to organise my return to work. I have been told that my job no longer exists. What can I do?

5. I have just found that a promoted role came up while I was on maternity leave which I would have been suitable for, but no-one informed me. What can I do?

6. I have been contacted by HR and offered a Settlement Agreement while on maternity leave. I don’t understand why. What can I do?

 

I would like to return to work later than I originally notified my employer. What can I do?

If you want to return to work before the end of your statutory maternity leave, you must give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice of your date of return.

If you originally notified your employer that you wanted to return to work before the end of your maternity leave, you can change your mind and return later (or earlier). To delay your return, you must give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice. This notice should end on the original return date as stated in your earlier notice.

I have used up my statutory maternity leave but would like to spend more time at home with my baby. Is this possible?

This can be done by:

  • Prior agreement

You and your employer can agree a further period of time off work when statutory maternity leave ends. I would advise that this agreement is put in writing so both parties are clear about what has been agreed.

  • Taking parental leave.

You could choose to take parental leave immediately after the end of your maternity leave. Unless there is a workforce or collective agreement setting out different arrangements for the workplace, the following rules apply:

    • You must give 21 days’ notice of your intention to take parental leave;
    • You may take no more than four weeks in any given year; and
    • The employer may postpone the parental leave by up to six months to avoid undue operational disruption.
  • Taking annual leave

You will accrue annual leave during your statutory maternity leave. You may wish to take any accrued and untaken holiday at the end of your maternity leave. The option to take annual leave may be at your employer’s discretion, so you must check your employment contract and staff handbook and take the annual leave in accordance with any relevant policies on annual leave.

I would like to return to work part-time after my maternity leave. What shall I do?

If you want to change your hours, you have the right make a request for flexible working.

You will need to make a request in writing and your employer must seriously consider how you can do your existing job on a part-time basis. Your employer can refuse a flexible working request based on one of the eight business reasons as set out in the ACAS Code. These are:-

  • the burden of additional costs
  • an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • an inability to recruit additional staff
  • a detrimental impact on quality
  • a detrimental impact on performance
  • a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work, and
  • a planned structural change to the business.

A meeting should be arranged to discuss your request and you have the right to appeal if your request is refused. If your employer refuses without a good business reason you may be able to claim indirect sex discrimination. This is where there is a provision, criterion or practice, such as full-time working, applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages women compared to men, and which an employer cannot justify as necessary for the business.

I have contacted my employer to organise my return to work. I have been told that my job no longer exists. What can I do?

If you have taken Ordinary Maternity Leave, only you are entitled to return to the same role. If you have taken Additional Maternity Leave, you are entitled to return to the same role, or if not reasonably practicable (e.g. due to a reorganisation), a suitable alternative on no less favourable terms. However, neither of these rules apply if there is a genuine redundancy situation.

It is important that you find out why your job no longer exists, i.e. where has your work gone.

If there has been or is a genuine redundancy situation your employer should have consulted with you about this and you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative role, if available, in priority to any others at risk. However, if there is not a genuine redundancy situation, e.g. you suspect your role may have been given to someone else in your absence, you will have a potential maternity discrimination claim.

I have just found that a promoted role came up while I was on maternity leave which I would have been suitable for, but no-one informed me. What can I do?

You need to raise a formal grievance setting out why you believe you have been discriminated against and linking this with your maternity leave. You need to enter your case for ACAS Early Conciliation within three months minus a day within finding out about this promotion opportunity. Your grievance will help you test whether this was just a lost opportunity or whether you were more suitable for this job. It is possible to issue discrimination claims against the company while employed in order to claim compensation.

I have been contacted by HR and offered a Settlement Agreement while on maternity leave. I don’t understand why. What can I do?

It is difficult to advise without knowing more about the employer’s reasons for doing this. It is also difficult for you because you haven’t been at work and don’t know what has been happening. You need to ask them for a lot more information and whether this is a redundancy situation.

If it is, then you need to find out why you are no longer needed and where the tasks that you used to do have been moved to.

A Settlement Agreement usually provides for paid advice from an independent legal advisor and if you want to leave the company, you can explain that you would be prepared to leave but need a solicitor to advise how much is fair. This enables your solicitor to carry out this fact finding on your behalf. On the basis of your employer’s response, we can negotiate a settlement sum that is fair and reflects what you might get were you to make a claim for maternity discrimination at the Employment Tribunal.

 

If you’re concerned about pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work, contact one our expert Employment lawyers today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

 

 

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