Q&A - Can boss get rid of me with just 2 months notice following maternity leave?

Q: Two months ago I went back to work after having a baby. My boss was always aware that my mother would be looking after the baby and I would be going back to work full time at the end of my maternity leave because I need the money as we are saving up to buy our own house.

When I returned to work, however, there was another member of staff doing the job I have done for the past eight years and my boss has just shunted me around doing fill-in jobs. Now he says he doesn’t need me and can’t afford to pay me because business has dropped off. He hasn’t mentioned anything about redundancy pay, just said he will give me an extra month’s notice to give me time to look for another job. Can he do this?

A: Your employer certainly can’t do that. After eight years in the job you are entitled to redundancy pay. In addition, you have a legal right under maternity legislation to return to the role you held prior to going on maternity leave.

In the first instance you should write a formal letter to your employer advising that if he carries out the action he has stated then he is in breach of both maternity and employment legislation. Further, if he does not comply with both pieces of legislation you will sue him for breach of contract and direct sex discrimination.

You will find full details of your rights, on both counts, on the ACAS website www.acas.org.uk. If it reaches the point where you need to take the matter further you should get advice from an employment lawyer as a proven case of breach of contract and direct sex discrimination could lead to substantial damages being awarded against your employer.


Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham