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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 44864
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hi there My wife is 3 weeks away from having a baby. She

Customer Question

Hi there

My wife is 3 weeks away from having a baby. She went on annual leave last week from a UK company. The actual maternity leave starts in 3 weeks time, which goes on for 12months.

She has been at the company for 7 years.

Yesterday they text her to call in. Say she needs to be on a call for a section of the company at 10am today. She attends the call and is informed that a department is re structuring that she is in. They then ask her to attend another call at 11am and only send her relevant documents some 5 mins before the call.

She is then told that at 9am tomorrow she will have her first 'formal' consultation. For the purpose of information they are in some sense calling it a restructure and then a business review and then a consultation that will go on until the day actually our baby is due.

They also sent a letter out, which informs her of the reasons but also that she can in the next few weeks, apply for other jobs, help change the outcome etc. Also informs her that she will have to change her working times from 9-5 to 5am for live shows.Also one out of 4weekends she will have to work. The list goes on.

She replied to the letter saying how upset she was(i.e. had been crying) and they said the letter was not really meant for her as it was a letter sent out to people in the office, even though it has her name, employment id etc and that they would deal with things tomorrow.

Firstly, she feels very harassed right now, has no information and also the limited info she has been given, feels she has no other option but to leave or accept being made redundant.

So I guess my question is

Does she have to turn up to the call tomorrow.
Can she say she will deal with this after baby being born.
Can she elect to have me as first point of contact(her husband)
If she goes to the doctor and gets sign off for her holiday how does that effect things.
Also the whole process feels very pressured and fast.
The letter they have confirmed was not for her, so technically she has not received a letter.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. has you wife been in contact with the company HR for clarification of the situation

JACUSTOMER-g03mzdvq- :

I think its clear what they intend. My point is that she feels harassed and rushed when she is about to have a bady. HR have not at any point handled her in a different way from someone who is 'not' pregnant

Ben Jones :

thank you leave it with me I need to look up a few things and then get my advice ready.I will post back on here when done there is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded.

JACUSTOMER-g03mzdvq- :

Thanks

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. If there are uncertainties over what is happening and the employer is trying to clear things up and explain what actually is going on, then it may be a good idea for her to attend the meeting just to be kept in the loop and have a better understanding of the circumstances. She cannot be forced to attend but ignoring the meeting and burying her head in the sand does not mean that the employer will not proceed with what they are planning on doing and if she knows first-hand what the next steps may be then she could be better prepared. But then again, as mentioned, she cannot be forced to attend so if she really does not feel up to it, she could get signed off (perhaps with stress) and ask that the employer deals with everything remotely, such as through letters/emails and that they keep up her up to date with all developments that way.

As you have pointed out, at this stage she has not been treated differently to others so there are no calls for potential discrimination if the reorganisation continues and she faces redundancy whilst she is already on her maternity leave then she will have some extra protection.

The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations state that if "it is not practicable by reason of redundancy" for the employer to continue to employ an employee under her existing contract, the employee is entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy (where one is available) to start immediately after her existing contract ends. This also includes a vacancy with an associated employer.

If the employee is offered a new contract so that redundancy is avoided, then it must meet the following criteria:

  • The work to be done is both suitable and appropriate for her to do in the circumstances.
  • The capacity and place in which she is to be employed, and the other terms and conditions of her employment, are not substantially less favourable to her than if she had continued to be employed in her old job

When a redundancy situation exists, the employer has a general duty to try and offer those who are at risk of redundancy any suitable alternative employment that is available at the time. However, the Regulations effectively give employees who are on maternity leave priority over other employees when such offers are made. If a suitable alternative position existed, it should be offered to the employee on maternity leave first, before being offered to others. Failure to do so would breach the statutory regulations and can also amount to discrimination because of pregnancy and/or maternity.

Finally, she can ask for you to be her point of contact but if the employer is unwilling to agree to that they do not have to deal with you and they can still request that they only deal with her. Of course that would mean she may not always be available to do so because she will have other engagements as a new mother but the employer should take that into account when making their decision.

Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello David, please let me know if I have answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thank you

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