Many thanks for your patience. According to Reg. 18 of The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999, an employee who takes Additional Maternity Leave (i.e. between 6-12 months off) is entitled “to return to the job in which she was employed before her absence, or, if it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to permit her to return to that job, to another job which is both suitable and appropriate for her to do in the circumstances.”
This means that there is no guarantee of a return to the job the employee performed before going on maternity leave. If the employer can show that it is not reasonably practicable to allow a return to that job, they need to find something that is both suitable and appropriate for the employee to do instead.
A common issue that arises is whether the reason for not being reasonably practicable to allow the employee to return to her old job is relevant and justifiable. Sadly there is very little case law that covers that and there are only a handful of lower tribunal decisions that have examined this. For example, formal reorganisations of the business can amount to a justifiable reason, whereas a simple preference over someone providing maternity cover will not suffice.
In terms of taking the matter further, what options are available would depend on what has happened so far:
· If the employment has not terminated but the employer is unreasonably denying the opportunity to return to the old job, that could amount to pregnancy and maternity discrimination
· If an alternative job has been offered, which is unsuitable, the employee can resign and make a claim for constructive dismissal and/or sex discrimination
Each of the above claims will be made in the employment tribunal and the remedy would be compensation for loss of earnings and/or injury to feelings.
Does this answer your query?