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Martin Brewer

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Ask the expert: Advertising short term vacancies and contracts


Martin Brewer and Esther Smith advise on whether you need to advertise short term vacancies and contracts.

The question: Advertising short term vacancies and contracts

Could someone please clarify the law regarding the advertisement of short-term vacancies such as maternity leave? I am the Deputy Manager and my Manager is due to go on maternity leave within a couple of months. Until Friday I was under the impression that I would take on the management responsibilities as my job profile clearly states that I will deputise when the Manager is not present. Other Deputies have automatically stepped into the management role when their Managers have been off for long periods of time (without these being advertised). I am now being told that the maternity leave has to be advertised by law (by an acting Manager whose role was not advertised!). Is this correct?


Legal advice:

Martin Brewer, partner, Mills & Reeve

This is nonsense. There is no law requiring maternity leave cover to be advertised. What is important in recruitment and selection is offering equal opportunities, or, to put it another way, to ensure that when posts are being filled you don’t do so in a way which either directly or indirectly discriminates against any particular person or group. This should be enshrined in the employer’s equal opportunities policy and all those involved in recruitment should be trained in equality and diversity as an issue.  But these are general issues set out in long-established laws. On your particular point, frankly someone is pulling your leg.

Martin Brewer can be contacted at [email protected]. For further information, please visit Mills & Reeve.


Esther Smith, partner, Thomas Eggar

Thanks for your enquiry.  There is no “legal” obligation as such to advertise internal roles, whether permanent or temporary, in as much as there is no statutory provision obliging employers to do this. 

However, as a matter of good practice many employers will advertise all vacancies internally. The benefit of this is that it denies the employees within the business the opportunity to argue that the failure to give them access to an internal opportunity amounts to a breach of the relationship of trust and confidence and/or an act of discrimination on some grounds protected by law.

How a business decides to manage an individual’s absence during a period of maternity leave is entirely down to the business.

Esther Smith is a partner in Thomas Eggar’s Employment Law Unit. For further information, please visit Thomas Eggar.


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