Search our website

Type in the box below to search the website. Need help? Please contact us.

Employment

Sam has returned to work after maternity leave, but is having some issues – what should she do?

Monday, April 15, 2024

Sam has returned to work following a period of maternity leave and has discovered that her role has been taken over by her cover and that she has been allocated a different type of role.

The first issue to explore is how much maternity leave Sam had taken prior to returning to work, as the right to return to the same job as before maternity leave is affected by how much maternity leave has been taken.

An employee is entitled to take up to 52 weeks i.e. a full year of maternity leave, and if Sam has taken 26 weeks or less maternity leave, which is called ‘ordinary maternity leave’ she has the right to return to the same job. Sam’s pay and conditions must be the same as or better than if she hadn’t gone on maternity leave. 

If this applies to Sam, it would unfair dismissal and maternity discrimination if her employer says she can’t return to the same job.

If Sam has taken more than 26 weeks maternity leave, which is called ‘additional maternity leave’, she would still have the right to return to her job on the same terms as before she left, but it may not be possible if there have been significant changes affecting the employer. In this situation Sam may not return to the same job but instead she could be offered a similar job, although this cannot be on worse terms than before.

The following terms must be the same for Sam:

  • pay
  • benefits
  • holiday entitlement
  • location

Whilst it is possible for Sam’s employer to make certain changes if she has taken more than 26 weeks maternity leave, it would still potentially be unfair dismissal and maternity discrimination if her employer offers her a different job without a strong reason. Sam’s employer shouldn’t offer her a different job if her job still exists – for example if they’ve given it to someone else, which is the suggestion from the fact that Sam’s cover has taken over her role;

her job would still exist if she hadn’t gone on maternity leave;
the new job isn’t something she could do;
the new job has worse conditions or pay than Sam’s did – for example if Sam used to work part-time, and the new job would be full-time only, or vice versa.

In addition to the protection afforded to Sam regarding her return to work as set out above, unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy or maternity leave can include a wide range of behaviour, such as reducing your workload, refusing work on certain projects or clients, removing management responsibilities and other changes that may affect your chances of promotion or which might increase the risk that you will be made redundant.

If you think that you have suffered unfavourable treatment because of your pregnancy or maternity leave, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible, and the Employment Law team at Samuel Phillips Law would be happy to discuss this with you further.

Join our newsletter

Get free tips and advice and stay up to date with legal news by joining our newsletter!

Important notice

We have been informed that emails have been sent misusing the name of Samuel Phillips Law.

The emails were sent from the domain @samuelphilips.co.uk. The emails ask the recipients to transfer funds in relation to conveyancing matters to a bank account which is not associated with Samuel Phillips Law, the genuine firm.

Any business or transactions through the domain ‘@samuelphilips.co.uk’ is not undertaken by an individual or firm of solicitors authorised and regulated by the SRA.

Close this message