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Maternity discrimination during redundancy

19 July 2010

We acted for an individual who was told that she was at risk of redundancy whilst she was on maternity leave.   The employer did not follow a fair selection process so our client appealed the decision and she also raised a grievance about her treatment.    She was told that she could choose to delay being given notice of termination of her employment until she was due to return to work after a year’s maternity leave.   She would remain on ‘garden leave’ for her notice period until her employment ended.   
However, the employer refused to look for suitable alternative employment until our client was given notice of termination.  This was incorrect because an employer should look for suitable alternative employment as soon as a woman is placed at risk of redundancy.  Then, if the woman is still on maternity leave, she should be offered suitable alternative employment in preference to other employees who are not on maternity leave.  By waiting until our client was technically no longer on maternity leave, they then avoided the obligation of having to treat her more favourably than others with regard to suitable alternative employment.  Our client’s appeal and grievances were not upheld but we managed to negotiate a very favourable settlement for her without having to issue a claim in the employment tribunal.