When Maternity And Discipline Collide

This small video production company had fewer than 10 members of staff so the workplace is a close knit environment.

The Challenge

A valued member of staff had recently returned from maternity leave. A flexible working arrangement was put in place at the employee’s request, but she was found asleep at her desk three times in an eight week period. The line manager spoke to her and discovered that the baby had some health issues that were causing wakeful nights. The employee continued to fall asleep at work and other members of the team were heard making comments about the fact that she was getting preferential treatment, even though the young mother was generally popular.

The management were concerned about being accused of unfair practices by either the young mother or the staff.

The Solution

Lotus Human Resource was brought in to ensure the case was managed professionally and fairly. The first step was to start a formal disciplinary process as the informal approach had failed to work. A formal written warning about the employee’s conduct was issued and things improved. The employer was advised to keep an eye on the situation, but to take no further action unless there was a reoccurrence. Two months later there were further instances of the employee falling asleep at work. This meant the disciplinary process was restarted. At this point the employee decided to resign – which was accepted.

The Outcome

Trust and confidence apply both ways in the employment relationship. The employee has an obligation to carry out their duty with due care and attention in the same way the employer has a duty of care for their staff. The employer had done everything possible to resolve the situation and had evidence to prove this, ensuring that no claim of discrimination or unfair dismissal could be brought.

The amicable parting of the ways meant that organisation could recruit a new person into the role and improve productivity and performance for the business overall.