Employees on maternity leave can often find themselves absent from the workplace for a significant period of time with many taking the full one year entitlement. In addition, as such employees continue to accrue annual leave in this time, many will bolt such time on to the start and end of the leave period.
Subsequently it can be very easy to forget about such employees when dealing with day to day workplace matters. Often this is deliberate and a form of misguided ‘kindness’ by the employer who will genuinely believe they are doing the right thing by the employee by cutting them off from the workplace.
Facing the consequences
In a recent case at the West Midlands employment tribunal this matter came to the fore and acts as a stark reminder to keep employees on maternity leave firmly in the loop. In the case in question the employee, Ms Lad had lost her mobile phone and requested a replacement from her employer so she could continue to access work systems and Whatsapp groups. The employer refused to do this on the basis that she did not require this access whilst on maternity leave. Ms Lad objected to this, citing isolation amongst other points.
The employment tribunal agreed, noting the social interaction as well as business discussion that took place on the group and upheld her complaint of sex discrimination.
What to bear in mind
Employers are reminded that employees on maternity leave should be kept full up to date with workplace developments, invited to staff social events, provided with routine pay reviews and informed of promotion opportunities, amongst other matters. Failure to do so could result in costly litigation and an injury to feelings award that has no upper limit.
Get in touch
Employment partner Darryll Thomas can provide expert advice on employment law for both businesses and individuals. You can also contact your local mfg office for more information about services near you.
mfg will be running a series of Employment Law Workshops throughout 2024, offering employers advice on common workplace issues and covering any updates in employment law. For more information about our 2024 Employment Law Workshops, please visit our events page.