An ex-childcare assistant filed a complaint under the Unfair Dismissals Act when her employment was terminated following a prolonged absence.
The complainant had been absent on maternity leave. A medical certificate was supplied, informing the respondent that the complainant was suffering from post-natal depression. There was continuous and regular correspondence between the respondent and the complainant. The complainant was offered an increased salary and discounted childcare upon return, and the respondent had been told that they would be contacted when a decision was reached.
The complainant informed the respondent of her decision to undertake a course as an accounting technician, something unrelated to her current work. No additional contact was made on the behalf of the complainant, nor any further medical certificates furnished in accordance with the complainant’s terms of employment. The respondent issued her P45 with the cessation date of October 21st 2016.
The respondent was notified of the complainant’s second pregnancy in March 2017, but had no knowledge when the P45 was issued. The complainant acknowledged that she did not make sufficient contact with the respondent, yet contested that she was unable to answer in regard to her date of return to work. Upon confirming her second pregnancy in March 2017, the complainant was informed that she was no longer an employee of the respondent.
The passage of three months without contact from the complainant was considered long enough to justify the respondent’s assumption that she did not intend to return. In addition, the respondent’s sick leave scheme requires employees submit medical certification for their absence on a weekly basis. Summarily, the complaint was dismissed due to a lack of communication on the behalf of the complainant during her absence.