Tuesday 15 May 2007

Maternity - what is the 'same job'?

Women who return from maternity leave are normally entitled to return to "the job in which she was employed before her absence". The EAT has handed down the first decision considering what this actually means.

The Claimant was a teacher at a primary school, in which the teachers typically rotated classes every two years. When she commenced maternity leave, she was teaching the reception class. On her return, she was allocated to teach Year 2. She alleged that this was not a return to the same job.

The EAT, upholding the tribunal, held that this was the same job. It was necessary to consider three factors when comparing the 'old' and 'new' jobs; nature, capacity and place - see discussion at paras. 51-54. The Claimant was employed as a primary school teacher, and she returned to work as a primary school teacher. Therefore the statutory requirement was satisfied.

On a minor note, the EAT substituted a finding that the Claimant was subjected to a detriment because she was not consulted over the class which she would be assigned to teach, as she would have been if she had not been absent on maternity leave.

Blundell v St Andrew's Catholic Primary School

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