An employee’s claim that her job was unreasonably not held open by her employer when she went on maternity leave has been dismissed by the Employment Relations Authority.

The employee worked as a support person in a small office.  The employer claimed that she occupied a key role that could not be filled by a temporary replacement because her skills could not be learned in a short time.

The firm expected employees in her role to be highly technologically savvy and to deal with customers to a higher level than would be common.  This made it not practical to keep her job open during the maternity leave.

The onus is on the employer to show the position is of a crucial nature that is required to be filled by a permanent appointment and a temporary replacement is not practical.

The employer in this case was able to do that but it is a difficult test to overcome and the onus is on holding a job open in most cases.