The Employment Relations Authority has upheld an employee’s personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal after her employer made her redundant during her maternity leave.

The employer had agreed to keep her job open during her maternity leave but after rearranging workloads it decided it could do without her and save money.

The employee was advised her position was redundant and was not given an opportunity to have input into the process.  She was told that the decision was to save money but was given no information to back up that claim and was not offered the opportunity for redeployment.

The ERA held that the employer had failed to act reasonably and awarded over $19,000 lost wages and $15,000 compensation. It also imposed a $2,000 penalty for breaches of the parental leave legislation.

Employees on parental leave are especially vulnerable to restructuring because they are absent from the office, and so a higher threshold of protection applies before they can be made redundant.