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West end stars of Legally Blonde row over right to return from maternity leave

02 February 2012 #Employment

It is a subject which has caused much debate over the past few days, and has led to a number of “twitter wars” breaking out.

Aoife Mulholland played the part of Brooke Wyndham in the West End stage production of Legally Blonde until going on maternity leave. Whilst she was absent, Tamara Wall was recruited as a replacement. This week, Ms Mulholland announced that she wished to return from leave to reprise her role for the last 8 weeks of the shows run, much to the annoyance of Ms Wall who took to Twitter to express her anger reportedly tweeting:

“It looks like I won’t be there for the last show. The original Brooke wants to come back from maternity! to do the last 8 weeks. Devastated does not come close to how I feel right now. I can’t believe that someone would do that to another person.”

“Played the part longer than her can’t believe she’s doing it, reiterate the producer tried their hardest to stop this.”

 “I can’t believe Aoife Mulholland is doing this to me: very nasty.”

Regular Buddy users will know that, subject to certain limited exceptions, an employee returning from Ordinary Maternity Leave is entitled to return to the same job and an employee who returns from Additional Maternity Leave is entitled to return to the same job, or if this is not practicable, to a suitable alternative job on terms and conditions which are no less favourable.

In order to avoid situations like this one where the replacement employee feels unfairly treated when their contract is terminated when the original employee wishes to come back to work, employers should ensure that replacement employees are fully informed from the outset that their engagement is only temporary and will end when the employee returns. Where possible, fixed term contracts should be used as that way everyone knows where they stand.

For more in depth advice about this, or any other issue, please contact the Clarkslegal Employment Department.

You can read more on this story here.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
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