Latvian Labour Law does not prohibit an employer from liquidating an employee’s position while the employee is on child care leave. However, in that case the employer must remember that under Section 156 part 4 of the Labour Law, they must still ensure the particular employee receives similar or equivalent work with not less favourable conditions and employment provisions on returning from leave. According to a judgment of the Latvian Supreme Court of 12 November 2014 in civil case No. SKC-2608/2014, the Labour Law does not make this obligation conditional on the employer’s actual possibilities.
In any event, this judgment is likely to change current practice when employers terminate employment contracts with employees who return from child care leave to find that their employers have no job for them. This approach is based on the assumption that all prohibitions for the employer not allowing them to terminate an employment contract with various categories of employees are stated in one Section of the Labour Law (ie Section 109) and employees who return from parental leave generally do not fall into any of these categories.
The judgment also raises other issues, for example, for how long a period the employer must keep an employee who has returned from child care leave and when it would be appropriate for the employer to terminate an employment contract with that employee due to a reduction in the number of employees (eg due to lack of work or restructuring). This is especially so in situations when both the employer and an employee returning from child care leave are aware from the very beginning that the employer is not able to ensure any work for the employee.