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Redundancy during maternity leave and alternative employment

(4 Posts)
whinegums Wed 30-Jul-08 23:10:24

Hello, hoping from some help from HR experts. Sorry for long post, but trying to be as clear as possible about the situation.

The funding for the project I have been working on for the past 2.5 years has not been confirmed, and today there was a meeting at work to start the redundancy consultation process. I've been on mat leave since the beginning of June, and was intending to take the full year. I went in for the meeting.

There are five of us in the team working on this project.

I have my 'individual' meeting next week with management to discuss the situation.

We have known for quite a while that the project may not get further funding, however, there is still a possibility that it might. We would find out by mid August; if the funding hasn't been confirmed by then the company will have to make us redundant because it can't pay our salaries.

There is a position in the company that I would definitely be suitable for, which has been advertised, and interviews are this week. I didn't apply because when the job was advertised, it looked like we were going to get funding.

I know that I (and the rest of the team) should be offered suitable alternative employment if there are roles available.

Is it true that I should be offered ANY other job within the company as I'm on mat leave? And should the company offer me the job that they are interviewing for this week, or at least put the appointment process on hold until the redundancy situation is clarified? Should I email my manager and tell them I'd be interested in the position?

Many thanks in advance for any help on this one!

pinkteddy Wed 30-Jul-08 23:40:58

Yes so far as I am aware you should be offered suitable alternative employment as you are on maternity leave. Some more information here (which is designed for employers) redundancy during maternity leave.

I think good practice would be to put the interview process on hold until the redundancy situation is clarified. They have to be particularly careful in your case as they could be liable for discrimination. I would bump this thread for flowery in the morning to get an HR perspective though. I do not have an HR background but was a union rep for many years and have managed staff. HTH

flowerybeanbag Thu 31-Jul-08 09:23:09

whinegums as a woman on maternity leave you do have extra protection during redundancy. Essentially what that means is if there is a suitable alternative position available, you must be offered it first. You can't be asked to compete with others, and you have priority over others when it comes to selection for redundancy if there are more staff than available jobs.

That doesn't mean they should offer you any job within the company, just if there is a suitable alternative you must be offered it.

I agree with pinkteddy the company should as a matter of good practice put this recruitment process on hold until there is further clarity - it sounds like that wouldn't involve a lengthy wait. I don't think technically legally they would be obliged to do so, but it would certainly be good practice. At the moment you are not redundant and still may not be so I would say technically they don't have to offer you this other post. But I think they should at least wait a couple of weeks so they could do so if they need to. Otherwise if you could argue that they knew you were going to be made redundant and there was a post for you but they didn't offer it to you, they are legally vulnerable as pinkteddy says.

It's also in their interests to put recruitment on hold generally when there is a potential redundancy situation, as it could save them redundancy pay. If they can redeploy some of the potentially redundant employees to internal vacancies, they will obviously not have to pay them redundancy money. For this reason I would always be advising a company to do that in a situation like this regardless of whether there are employees on maternity leave involved.

I think you should definitely contact your manager about this. Say something like 'you understand that redundant employees must be offered suitable employment where available, and you understand that employees on maternity leave have extra protection in this situation and must be offered alternative work without being made to compete with other candidates for it. Obviously from a business point of view to find suitable alternatives where possible will save the company notice pay and redundancy pay where applicable.

With those things in mind, you would like to enquire whether current recruitment campaigns will be put on hold for a short time while the situation is confirmed, and more specifically, you would like to register your interest in xx position, which you would consider a suitable alternative role for you.'

I would copy that to HR as well - they will (or should) be more aware of the legal aspects of this particularly involving employees on maternity leave. I don't know how big the company is or how the HR works, but sometimes there is a bit of a delay in 'joined up thinking' where there are lots of employees/HR staff involved so a bit of a helping hand from you isn't a bad thing.

whinegums Thu 31-Jul-08 11:04:13

Pinkteddy, thank you. Flowery, you are a star (as always - was hoping you might see my OP and reply) I'm going to do as you suggest and email them right now. Huge thanks for this.

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