The branch has helped West Sussex County Council change its approach to redundancy policy for those on maternity leave.
Prior to this, if managers decided to restructure their service, resulting in redundancies, any woman taking maternity leave at that time would be subject to the same selection process as any other member of staff. They would be competing for suitable new roles – where available – in the new structure.
One of our members approached us asking for advice, as she had previously been subjected to such a process in her previous service. She was now facing a repeat of this when pregnant with her second child and was stressed by the thought of having to go through this again.
We discovered case law relating to similar circumstances, resulting in a change to employment law. It stated that if a service decides to restructure when a member of staff is on maternity leave, then that woman should automatically be given a suitable post without having to go through a selection process.
A woman on maternity leave can only be made redundant from a restructure when no suitable posts are available. The change in law is to protect women at a vulnerable and stressful time of life.
After being challenged by the branch on this point, the council realised an error had been made and changed its approach. Our member was hugely relieved at the positive impact this had on her.
If you are a member currently on maternity leave or due to be soon, find out more about payment of membership fees during this time here.