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Q: We are planning to start a redundancy consultation process during May 2019 but two of the employees who are at risk of redundancy are currently on maternity leave. Do we have to include them in the consultation process?

A: If their roles are at risk, absolutely yes. Invite them to meet with you face-to-face for consultation meetings in the same way as any other employee but they may consider it more appropriate to consult by telephone or something like Facetime. Make sure they have all the relevant information in writing and have the opportunity to respond. Failure to consult with absent employees could result in claims for discrimination and unfair dismissal.

If there are any roles available, employees on maternity leave (adoption and shared parental leave) have enhanced rights. They must be offered any suitable and appropriate vacancies before you offer them to any other employee. It makes no difference if you consider another redundant employee is better suited to the role as the rights of employees on maternity leave will take precedence over any other employees.

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