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What should an employee do if their employer doesn’t offer them the same job back after they return from parental leave?

Although employees are entitled to the same job when they return from parental leave, changes may occur sometimes. If a person returning to work is not offered the same job as before, this is not automatically unequal treatment. There may be many different factors behind the offer of a new job that may not be realised until the employee talks to the employer.

There may be different reasons for changing the job, e.g. the activity of the organisation or the job title may have changed, but the job duties have remained mostly the same.

However, if the position has clearly changed, e.g. a former manager is offered the position of a secretary, the employee has the right to ask the employer for mentoring or support to help them adjust to the new job. Such a change of job can only be made with good reason and by agreement between the parties (§ 12 of the Employment Contracts Act). However, in the absence of good reasons and relevant agreements, and if the employer treats the employee unequally, the employee has the right to turn to the Labour Inspectorate.

If an employer treats an employee unequally on the basis of their gender, e.g. transfers them to another job, terminates the employment relationship or encourages its termination on the grounds of their gender, the employer is in breach of the law (subsection 6 (1) of the Gender Equality Act). It is also prohibited to treat someone less favourably due to parenting or performance of parental obligations (subsection 6 (2) 1) of the Gender Equality Act).

This explanation does not constitute legal aid in a specific case. Therefore, if you feel that you have been treated unequally, but you did not find a solution to your problem in this article, please contact the Equality Commissioner by e-mail at avaldus@volinik.ee or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.