Case law update – Obligation to offer alternative employment where an employee is on maternity leave
In the recent case of Sefton Borough Council v Wainwright, Mrs Wainwright was on maternity leave and was identified as being at risk of redundancy. Mrs Wainwright and a male colleague were given the opportunity to apply for a new role, and the role was ultimately offered to her male colleague. The question for the Employment Appeal Tribunal was whether the council’s failure to offer Ms Wainwright a new role, as opposed to merely offering her the opportunity to apply for it, amounted to a breach of MAPLE 1999. In this case, the EAT found that the Council’s failure was a breach of the regulations. The decision in Sefton Borough Council v Wainwright illustrates the strict obligation placed on employers when they are conducting a redundancy exercise involving employees on maternity leave and acts as a reminder that caution is key in these circumstances.