Made redundant while on leave; what should you do?

Prepare to be shocked when you read this…This letter was shared by a member of Circle In and all the details must remain confidential for obvious reasons. What we can share with you though is that this person was on maternity leave when they received this letter out of the blue from their employer advising them that their role was being made redundant. This is something that most women fear will happen to them. It’s a time when we often feel very vulnerable as we grapple with what impact motherhood will have on our careers. It’s hard to believe this letter was sent in 2017. Workplaces are fast moving and a lot can change while you’re on parental leave.

This also happened for Jenny. She’d been on leave for six months when she heard her workplace was restructuring and that it seemed her role was going to be made redundant. She was very nervous about what it meant for her financially and she was upset that she’d heard the rumour from a colleague first and not her boss.

In some cases these types of changes (when communicated well) can be great news. Some people are very open to taking a redundancy package while on leave as it can mean they can afford some extra time with their baby. For others, like Jenny and the recipient of the letter above, this is terrible news and takes away important stability. In all cases, it is a great idea to know your rights and where to go for help.

The Fair Work Ombudsman are there to help all of us understand our rights and responsibilities at work. According to their website:

  • Employers have to talk to an employee on unpaid parental leave if they decide to make a significant change in the workplace that will affect the employee’s job. This has to occur as the decision is made, not when the employee comes back to work from parental leave.
  • Where an employee’s job is made redundant while on parental leave, the employer has to give them the correct notice and pay out any entitlements, including redundancy pay.

If you find yourself in this position, you should initially raise your concern with your Manager or HR department. In the event that you cannot resolve your issue internally, you may wish to seek external support or contact the Fair Work Commission.

Finally. we should also let you know that the recipient of the redundancy letter is now happy and has thrown herself into her own business.

Written by the team at Circle In

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman:

If you are a working parent who has been discriminated against because of your pregnancy or family commitments, we highly recommend seeking legal advice.

If you believe adverse action has been taken against you by reason of you requesting flexible working hours or taking parental leave to attend to your child, you may be able to lodge a general protections application with the Fair Work Commission.

Working mothers may also make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 if they have been discriminated against for pregnancy or breastfeeding.

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