The claimant had worked in the respondent’s dental surgery based in Dublin for over ten years. The claimant told her employer that she was pregnant around April 2008. The claimant had made known that it was her ultimate intention to return to Carlow and to raise her family there. As a result, the respondent formed the view that the claimant did not intend returning back to the workplace at the conclusion of her maternity leave and found a replacement for the claimant.

The Tribunal accepted that the claimant genuinely believed that she had left her options open with regard to returning to the workplace, in particular she had never formally tendered her resignation and the claimant had indicated an intention to return to work when filling in her maternity benefit application.

The Tribunal found that both parties contributed to this misunderstanding. However, in the circumstances, the claimant had to succeed for her claim of unfair dismissal. The claimant’s contribution was taken into account in awarding compensation of €18,000.