An employee returning from maternity leave asked if she can do other work (related to but different from her pre-leave job) and work from home on a part-time basis and then, after 6 months, resume her normal (including supervisory duties) in the office but only as a part-timer. These are her preferences and I don’t want it to look like we’re forcing the changes on her. My understanding is that when someone’s job duties change, it’s a different position and you need a new contract. But how would we go about getting her out of her current contract? Should she resign? Should we change her job title? And what should we do when she returns to her pre-leave job on a part-time basis after 6 months? Any clarification would be much appreciated. We’re in Manitoba.
I’d recommend not making a separate employment contract but a bridge agreement instead.
Like all jurisdictions, Manitoba (ESC Sec. 60(2)) requires you to reinstate an employee after maternity leave at the same or equivalent position with at least equal salary and benefits. Entering into a new contract might make it look like the employee has not returned from her maternity leave but quit, which will affect her ability to claim EI in the future. However, there does need to be a written “bridge” agreement, as opposed to a new standalone employment agreement, clearly indicating that the failure to return immediately to her existing position was at the employee’s request and that her preference is a phased return to her old position.
And I don’t see that a change in position or title necessarily requires a new employment contract. It might mean a change in the terms and conditions of employment, but not a separate period of employment. If you treat the phased return as its own period of employment, there will have to be another when the person finally does return to her old duties.
Last but not least, I strongly urge you to talk to a lawyer and keep in mind that this is just a general opinion and not legal counsel.