A general manager of a hotel who returned to work after being on maternity leave to find that she had been effectively demoted has been awarded €12,000.
This follows the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) making the award after the woman brought a claim against the hotel firm under the Maternity Protection Act.
She had her baby in March of last year and was due to return to work in January 2016 from maternity leave.
Prior to returning to work, she learnt that a new management role, more senior to her own, had been created in her absence and she would report to the new manager.
The woman found on that returning to work in January, her laptop and email account were not accessible and there was no office or workstation ready for her.
In a letter to the owners of the hotel, she described the situation as “untenable”.
In reply, the hotel firm told the WRC that in the absence of the complainant, major changes were taking place in the hotel. It was being upgraded from a three to a four-star rating, with expansion in its services and employee numbers doubled.
The hotel said turnover projections were for a significant increase, and that these changes took place when the complainant was on maternity leave but were independently driven by the need to develop the business following its acquisition by a new and ambitious owner.
The hotel firm stated that the woman’s salary and responsibilities would have remained the same and in the case of her email and laptops, unfortunate technical “glitches” had occurred.
However, the adjudication officer in the case ruled that “the change represented an unacceptable diminution of the manager’s role during a period of protected leave”.
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