An employee is currently on a permanent contract in one department in the business. The employee has applied for a temporary role (maternity leave cover) in another part of the business.

If we decide the employee is suitable for this temporary role, do we have to keep their permanent role open for them, or can we advise the employee that they must resign from their permanent role if they want to take up the temporary role?

Assuming that we can do this, would the employee have continuous service if they forfeit their permanent role in favour of the temporary one?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 4 June 2013
Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

Any internal policies you have in place dealing with this situation should be carefully reviewed. Assuming that there has been an internal recruitment process for the temporary role and that it is an ‘acting up’ position, it is likely that you will be required to keep the permanent role open. In this case, the permanent role would be backfilled and the employee will (if successful in the appointment) take on the temporary role.

It is unlikely that a resignation is required in these circumstances as taking on the new role would instead be treated as a temporary change to the employee’s

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Emma-Jane Flannery. Contact telephone number is 028 9023 0007 or email

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