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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50166
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have a question about Maternity Leave and if my employers

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I have a question about Maternity Leave and if my employers can hold that against me... I am a Nurse and in my 10 years working as a registered nurse I have been on maternity leave 3 times. When I returned to work a few months ago I was informed that another nurse (who was past child bearing age when she started training to be a nurse and has only been qualified for 8 years) had insisted she be placed above me in the ward 'seniority ranks' (The most senior nurse on shift is the shift leader). I never had a problem with this until last weekend, when she appeared to be trying to assert her authority (her attitude on that day breached the NHS's 'dignity at work policy'). What I would like to know is, can my employer use the fact that I have been on maternity leave against me. Her argument is that she should be more senior, not on skills or capability, but because If you deducted the length of time I have spent on leave from the amount of time I have been qualified, then she has had more work experience... Is this legal?
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. have you raised a grievance about this with your HR department


Hi, Ben. Not as yet. I have spoken to my senior nurse about the weekends events, as she was trying to send to me a ward that has a confirmed highly contagious virus in it. I refused to go as my youngest has health problems and I was concerned he would end up in hospital if he contracted the bug. As for what happen at the weekend my senior nurse believes I was within my rights to refuse to do 'what I was told to do'... but when I ask about the seniority issue I am told 'not to worry it's just because I've been on leave 3 times'. I plan to raise a grievance but would like to know all the legal ins and outs first as my hospital manager and HR are very policy/law orientated (and make you feel really stupid if you can't back up your grievances with legal facts). Just so you know I work in psychiatry.

Ben Jones :

Ok 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.

Ben Jones :

Hi, it is not possible to be treated detrimentally in such a way because it would amount to unlawful discrimination. It does not matter how many times you have been off on maternity leave – the employer cannot treat you differently or detrimentally because of that. The employer cannot deduct any time you have spent on maternity leave to determine your seniority or affect your status, earnings, etc. You need to be treated equally to all other employees who have not been off on maternity leave and your time away should not be discounted in any way and would count as if you had never left the workplace. So if the employer actually goers ahead with this move then you will have a good case for discrimination, which you can pursue internally at first through the grievance procedure and if needed you may then also consider making a claim in the employment tribunal.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you


Thank you so much, that is very helpful.

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