Redudancy & Maternity Leave

What can a female employee on maternity leave do if an employer furnishes to them a notification letter of Redundancy while on maternity leave ?.

Maternity Protection Act 1994

The purpose of the above act is to protect women who are on maternity leave from various detriments, most notably, loss of employment while availing of this protected leave period.

In the employer’s and the employee’s mind the person is absent from work while on the maternity leave.

The law obligates an employer though to treat the employee on maternity leave as if she is not absent at all. The employee while on leave maintains all her employment rights stemming from her employment contract or of from legislation etc.

S. 22 of the 1994 Act states the following:

During a period of absence from work by an employee while on—

( a) maternity leave,

(b) subsection (1) (a) leave, as defined in section 16 (3) , or

( c) leave granted under section 18 ,

and during a period of natal care absence, the employee shall be deemed to have been in the employment of the employer and, accordingly, while so absent the employee shall, subject to subsection (6) and section 24  be treated as if she or he had not been so absent; and such absence shall not affect any right (other than, except in the case of natal care absence, the employee’s right to remuneration during such absence), whether conferred by statute, contract or otherwise, and related to the employee’s employment.

A very strong legal protection for the female employee on maternity leave can be seen in S. 23 of the 1994 Act.

Very simply the law states that any purported termination of employment or even receiving a notice of termination from an employer is void at the outset. Therefore, the employer may send the employee a letter notifying her of the termination, however, this is not legally binding.

All of the following scenarios are offside:

  • any purported termination of an employee’s employment while the employee is absent from work on protective leave;
  • any purported termination of an employee’s employment during a period of natal care absence;
  • any purported termination of an employee’s employment during a period of absence from work to attend ante-natal classes;
  • any purported termination of an employee’s employment during a period of absence from work for breastfeeding;
  • any notice of termination of an employee’s employment given while the employee is absent from work on protective leave and expiring subsequent to such a period of absence
  •  any notice of termination of an employee’s employment given during a period of natal care absence and expiring subsequent to such a period;
  • any notice of termination of an employee’s employment given during a period of absence from work to attend ante-natal classes;
  •  any notice of termination of an employe ’s employment given during a period of absence from work for breastfeeding; 
  •  any purported suspension from an employee ’s employment imposed while the employee is absent from work on protective leave, during a period of natal care absence or during a period of absence from work to attend ante-natal classes.

Return to Work

Receiving a letter from an employer regarding notification of Redundancy evidently should not happen.

What the employee should know is that there are strong legal rights to activate and avail of should this happen to you.

An Adjudicator Officer ie decision maker at the Workplace Relations Commission can direct that that employee returns to work, that the employer facilitates the return to work at the conclusion of the maternity leave period, and that compensation is awarded to the employee.

The maximum compensation amount under the Maternity Protection Act is 20 weeks remuneration.

Disclaimer of this Maternity & Redundancy Article

Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute. Legal advice should be sought from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.