A recent decision has highlighted that an employee’s absence (whether on parental leave or some other form of leave) can, in the right circumstances, lead to the conclusion that that employee’s position is not in fact required.

In the relevant case a female employee alleged that she was “targeted” by management as a consequence of her pregnancy, the birth of her child and her parental leave, and that her redundancy was “manufactured” rather than being the legitimate outcome of her employer restructuring its operations.

In that case the court concluded that the employer’s decision to make the employee redundant legitimately came about due to her absence from work, because:

  • it enabled “alternative arrangements to be tested and found satisfactory”; and
  • it created the circumstances in which the employer concluded it no longer needed the employee’s position because while she was on leave her duties were easily absorbed by other employees.

See Poppy v Service to Youth Council Incorporated [2014] FCA 656 (20 June 2014) for more information.