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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50202
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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Hello, my question is regarding employment and more specifically

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my question is regarding employment and more specifically maternity leave. I joined a software company in London 4 years ago as a permanent employee. However, 2 years ago, my company was bought - the software became property of the acquirer and all employees transioned over to the new firm. We were ushered into a room and HR gave us an overview of how our benefits and perks will change. Those included a different private health insurer and pension provider and an extensive maternity leave cover which wasn't offered in my original contract. So far so good except that I never received a new contract. These brings up several questions:
- is my contract still valid even though the company has ceased to exist?
- can I rest assured that the maternity cover applies to me even though I do not have a new contract of employment?
I have repeatedly contacted HR to ask them to provide a contract and was told that they are looking into it but that has been dragging on for 4 months with no progress. Effectively, I have now worked for the company which acquired us for 2 years without a contract.
I am thinking of having a baby and I'd like to know where I stand.
I want to add that I am the only woman in my team, I still do exactly the same job. It is a client-facing role involving lots of travelling so my pregnancy would be bad news, especially to my boss who is not exactly child-friendly.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What is your specific query about this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
You haven't provided an answer at all.
Hi, I have not been able to provide an answer because I am still waiting for your response to my initial query which was posted above:
Can you please let me know what is your specific query about this? I have a general question of wishing to know where you stand but please be more specific with the issues you need addressing, thanks
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Ben,

as outlined above, questions are:

- is my contract still valid even though the company has ceased to exist?
- can I rest assured that the maternity cover applies to me even though I do not have a new contract of employment?


Thank you for clarifying. When you transferred to the new employer your old contract would have automatically moved over at the same time and you would have retained your old terms and conditions. In other words the new employer would have taken you on with your existing terms and had a duty to retain these and honour them, just as if the old employer had never ceased to employ you.
If the new maternity cover was offered to you and you accepted it then it would have been legally binding even if no contract was subsequently issued. Ideally you need to get some evidence of what was offered to you and the new policies which they had tried to implement, including any acceptance or other communications that signified your acceptance of these changes. This is not essential but can be helpful in the event that a dispute arises further down the line.
At any point you are free to use the formal grievance procedure if you believe that no formal progress is being made – this would require the employer to formally investigate your concerns and deal with them through a legally recognised process, the outcome of which you may appeal if you are not satisfied with.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, thanks Ben, last few things to clarify:

the old T&Cs have been superseded by new ones but those are not spelled out anywhere in writing.

The old T&Cs prohibit me from working with the software for a year after I leave the company which I believe is not legally binding as it can adversely affect my employability. Is my assumption correct?

The maternity cover is a firm-wide policy with the new employer but I have no written evidence that it was ever offered to me. Is this a reason to worry?

Lastly, even if I am covered by the maternity leave policy, my current role involves constant business travel throughout Europe which is not compatible with a pregnancy. Would they have a duty to modify my role so as to accommodate me (there are plenty of options I can think of) and if so, can I demand that from the very start of my pregnancy or only near my due date?


Hi, the old T&Cs may have been superseded by new ones but unless you knew what these were and had agreed to them then this would not have happened. So it could be that only a couple of new policies have come in placed and replaced the equivalent old ones, with the remainder of the old contract remaining in place.
Restrictions in contracts can often be unenforceable because they would be considered too restrictive and narrow. For example a blanket ban on working in a specific field is unlikely to be enforceable, unless you had a strong influence on clients/suppliers or you were relying on confidential information belonging to the employer or using their trade secrets, etc.
If the policy was introduced firm-wide then you have a better chance to argue that you would also be included in it, even in the absence of anything in writing.
As to your role during pregnancy the employer does have a duty to ensure you are not exposed to any unnecessary risks during that time and they should carry out a risk assessment to ensure that there are no factors that could expose you t such risks. If they are identified the employer should take measures to remove or at least reduce them and this could result in your duties being changed.
If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
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