Under the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999, an employee returning from either ordinary or additional maternity leave is generally entitled to return to the job in which she was employed prior to taking maternity leave. The Employment Appeal Tribunal in Blundell v Governing Body of St Andrew's Catholic Primary School considered what returning to the same job actually means.
Ms Blundell was a primary school teacher who, prior to taking maternity leave, taught a Reception class. Shortly before Ms Blundell returned to work, the head teacher offered her the choice of either teaching Year 2 or occupying a 'floating' role during the next school year. Ms Blundell wished to return to teaching the Reception class and argued before the EAT that in allocating her the role of floating teacher or Year 2 teacher on return from maternity leave, the School had failed to allow her to return to the 'job in which she was employed before her absence' which, she argued, was the job of 'Reception class teacher'.
The EAT held that where the employee's role is variable, regard should be given to the normal range within which variation has previously occurred. In this case the EAT held that Ms Blundell could not insist on coming back to teach the same class, since the School customarily required teachers to change classes every two years