On Maternity Leave...at risk of Redundancy?

15 Nov

The EAT has held in Sefton Borough Council v Wainwright [2014] UKEAT 0168/14, that an employer can’t organise a redundancy process simply to decide when it is must offer a suitable alternative vacancy to a redundant employee who is on maternity leave.

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The EAT has held in Sefton Borough Council v Wainwright [2014] UKEAT 0168/14, that an employer can’t organise a redundancy process simply to decide when it is must offer a suitable alternative vacancy to a redundant employee who is on maternity leave.

Mrs Wainwright was on maternity leave and facing redundancy along with another manager - a male. As their roles were combined the pool consisted of only them two. SBC gave the combined role to the other manager ahead of her; this made her dismissal automatically unfair under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The EAT rejected the Council's distinctions between processes leading to 'displacement' or 'redeployment' and 'redundancy'. For the purposes of Regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations which requires employers to offer redundant employees on maternity leave suitable alternative employment - it was not for the employer to determine when the redundancy arose. The EAT made it clear that the statutory definition of redundancy should be used, otherwise the protection of Regulation 10 could be undermined if employers abused their position to determine how redundancy processes were run.

However, the EAT found that the Employment Tribunal made a mistake in concluding that the breach of Regulation 10 (in failing to offer the new post to the Claimant) meant that it had committed maternity discrimination under section 18 of the Equality Act 2010. The ET hadn’t fully considered the reason why Mrs Wainwright was not offered the alternative job and it was not inherently discriminatory to offer the job to a candidate better qualified than her. Consequently, the matter was remitted to the same ET for reconsideration.

You can read the full case authority by following this link:

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2014/0168_14_1310.html


Naveen Agnihotri 

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