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Sefton Borough Council v Wainwright [2014] UKEAT/0168/14

Employer did not discriminate by not offering alternative role to employee on maternity leave

Under Regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 an employee on maternity leave has the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy where a redundancy situation occurs. The EAT in Sefton BC v Wainwright have held that where there is a breach of Regulation 10, this does not automatically mean that there is direct discrimination under Section 18 Equality Act 2010 (discrimination on grounds of maternity or pregnancy).

In this case, Ms Wainwright was on maternity leave from her job as Head of Overview and Scrutiny when the Council decided to undertake a redundancy/ reorganisation exercise. Her role and a male colleague’s roles were abolished and replaced with a new role, to which the council appointed the male colleague (after interviewing both) as it decided he was better qualified. 

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