Skip to content

Martin Searle Solicitors

01273 609911 Request a Call Back

FAQs: Maternity Discrimination at Work

Our Employment Law solicitors answer employers’ questions on the law relating to maternity discrimination at work

  1. Your employee wants to return from maternity leave earlier than she thought. This isn’t convenient. What can you do?
  2. Since your employee has been on maternity leave the department has been reorganised and her job has changed. What should you do?
  3. On returning from maternity leave, your employee would like to work part time; do you have to accommodate that?

Your employee wants to return from maternity leave earlier than she thought. This isn’t convenient. What can you do?

New mums who want to return to work before the end of their full 52-week maternity leave must give eight weeks’ notice. But you could decide to accept less or no notice at all. If, as in this case, the earlier date is not suitable – perhaps you have to provide notice to a temporary worker or make other arrangements – you can postpone it until the full eight weeks’ notice. You cannot do this, however, if your preferred date is after the 52-week maternity leave entitlement.

Since your employee has been on maternity leave the department has been reorganised and her job has changed. What should you do?

If your employee is returning to work after Ordinary Maternity Leave (the first 26 weeks) she is entitled to:

  • Return to the same job on the same terms and conditions as if she had not been absent, unless a redundancy situation has arisen
  • The same entitlements as normally apply to women returning after Additional Maternity Leave (from the 27th week onwards)

If there are redundancies and you select her for redundancy, ensure that the decision is not because of or connected to her pregnancy or you will be liable for discrimination and unfair dismissal. If it is not reasonably practical for you to take her back in the same job, you should offer ‘suitable alternative work’. If you fail to do so, any dismissal would automatically be unfair. On the other hand, if no suitable alternative exists or if your employee refuses suitable employment, you have a legitimate redundancy situation and you would not be dismissing unfairly.

On returning from maternity leave, your employee would like to work part time; do you have to accommodate that?

Your employees with at least 26 weeks’ service have the right to request flexible working. As an employer, you are legally obliged to give the request serious consideration. In general terms, this means you should:

  • Ask for it in writing
  • Hold a meeting with your employee to discuss it
  • Provide a decision in writing
  • Give your employee the right to appeal

For full details on how to handle the process see the gov.uk website for general advice.

Where you decide to reject a request, you need to be able to justify your decision with business factors such as:

  • Additional costs
  • Impact on customers, products/services or colleagues
  • Inability to reorganise work or recruit staff

For more information about how our expert Employment lawyers can help you, contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991 info@ms-solicitors.co.uk

Martin Searle Solicitors is the trading name of ms solicitors ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is registered in England under company number 05067303.

© 2021