My wife worked for a housing association for over 10 years and was in a management role when she became pregnant with our first child.
The organization she worked for undertook a restructuring programme a few months after the birth, whilst my wife was on maternity leave. The programme included voluntary and compulsory redundancies. Given her length of service and seniority, my wife did not expect a redundancy and did not apply for one.
What transpired was that in her absence my wife had been promoted to a more senior role that came about from combining roles as part of the restructure. In short, the new role would have been impossible to accomplish without working 70+ hours a week and would have been stressful. Totally unsuitable for any parent, let alone a new mum. We believed that the organization were trying to orchestrate a resignation as (a) it would have been cheaper than a redundancy and (b) my wife had previously indicated that we would have a second child.
My wife became very worried that the promotion would put her in a position where she either wouldn’t be able to do the job or wouldn’t be a good parent. The cost of childcare for the extended hours was also a worry.
We took some advice and crafted a carefully worded letter that gave the organization an opening to offer redundancy. By that stage my wife had decided she wouldn’t go back so it worked out well for us in the end she they took the opportunity, but had my wife wanted to return a constructive dismissal was on the cards. My wife has been a full time mum for 8 years now…….
The point is that promotions during maternity leave can also be used to intimidate new mums into not returning to work.