Many employees who go on maternity leave may not be aware that they are entitled to go back to the same job they were in prior to their maternity leave, or if this is not possible a suitable alternative accommodation must be provided to them. The recent Labour Court decision of HSE V Rabbitte highlights what can happen if this does not occur.
The employee was employed as a grade III employee but was told by her manager that she was actually working as a grade IV and that when the embargos were lifted the manager would seek to have the employee’s grade regarded as such. While the employee was on maternity leave the grade IV position was reassigned to a different location and when she returned to the workplace after her maternity leave she could not get any clarification on what exactly her role was.
The HSE argued that the employee had returned to the same terms and that they had gone to great lengths to identify alternative suitable work but that the employee had failed to provide a definitive list of duties she was prepared to undertake which would protect her entitlement to be upgraded.
The Labour Court held that the employee was employed on grade IV work before her maternity leave and was entitled to return to that work after her maternity leave ended. The Court also noted that it was the employer’s responsibility to assign appropriate work to the employee and that this was not the employee’s responsibility. Accordingly, the employee was awarded €5,000 in compensation and the Court ordered the HSE to identify and assign the complainant an appropriate grade IV post.
If you have any queries about what your entitlements are under the Maternity Protection Acts or alternatively if you are an employer who is unsure if you are acting in compliance with these Acts then please do not hesitate to contact me.
To read more on this decision:-