Discrimination: Pregnant Employee claims at ET after company fails to effectively communicate during redundancy

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The case highlights the importance of effective communication with employees on maternity leave. 

The claimant Jackson was exercising her statutory right on maternity leave when her employer communicated that she was put at risk of redundancy. An email was sent to Jackson’s personal email which detailed redeployment documents and instructions for return.

At the time in question Jackson was not accessing said personal emails and as such did not receive the information. As a result, the Jackson did not get notice or complete the required information for several days. The EAT stated that although it did not cause substantial harm it did cause her legitimate concern and it was found that it amounted to “unfavourable treatment”.

Jackson won her claim and the ET concluded that this was because she was exercising her rights to maternity leave and this am amounted to discrimination under section 18(4) Equality Act 2010 and said the treatment in question was “a failure adequately to communicate with them with regard to the redundancy exercise”. However, the EAT found that the ET has applied the wrong approach to accessing whether the employers were discriminatory. As a result, the case has been remitted to back to the ET to consider again.

But what does this mean for your business?

Although the case is yet to be concluded it is a reminder of the types of claims that can be brought if employers fail to consider effective communication whilst employees are on maternity leave; especially when undergoing exercises such as restructure which may affect the employee’s terms and conditions.

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