employment law Cases

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Blundell v Governing Body of St Andrew's Catholic Primary School [2007] IRLR 652

Maternity leave – right to return to work – 'same job'

The claimant teacher had taught a reception class before taking maternity leave. Upon her return, she was offered a role either as a floating teacher or taking a class of older children. The claimant took the role of teaching older children, but considered it to be a particularly onerous duty, as she had not previously taught that age-group, who were subject to national assessment tests. The claimant argued that the employer had committed acts of less favourable treatment towards her due to her pregnancy, and that the employer had failed to return her to the same job.

The tribunal dismissed the claim, finding no detriment, as the claimant was contractually required to teach whatever class she was allocated. The job in which she had previously been employed was that of teacher, not of reception class teacher.

The EAT held that the right to return to 'the job in which she was employed before her absence' provided by Reg 18 of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 meant that the employee should be able to return to a work situation as near as possible to that which she left. In this case the return post was within the normal range of variability which the claimant could reasonably have expected.