Redundancy and maternity leave: alternative vacancies

The EAT has held that the duty to offer a woman on maternity leave a suitable alternative vacancy arises when the employer becomes aware that her role is redundant or potentially redundant. This decision suggests that employers should note the exact point in time when a redundancy situation arises and offer any suitable vacancies from that point onwards. As a rule of thumb, it would seem sensible for the employer to regard the duty as arising when it first notifies the employee that she may be at risk.

If a business is making redundancies, it has a duty to look for alternative employment for any potentially redundant employees. A dismissal is likely to be unfair, if at the time of the dismissal, the business does not consider whether any suitable alternative employment exists.