Where the job of an employee on maternity leave is made redundant, an employer must offer her (rather than simply invite her to apply for) any suitable alternative vacancy for which the role, location and other terms are not substantially less favourable. A failure to do so renders the redundancy automatically unfair.
Where a vacancy would have involved a significant relocation (London to Cheltenham) and the employee had not indicated any interest in relocating, there was no obligation to offer the role. Whether a vacancy is suitable is an objective decision for the employer, although the employer must take into account what it knows of the employee's personal circumstances.
It would of course be prudent to discuss with an employee whether she is prepared to relocate (and document the outcome), before deciding whether a vacancy may be suitable.
The employee has sought permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. (Simpson v Endsleigh Insurance Services, EAT)