Can an employer dismiss an employee on maternity leave who wants to return to work on a part-time basis?

If an employer refuses to allow a woman who has taken maternity leave to return to work on a part-time basis in order for her to fulfil her childcare commitments, it may be liable for a claim of sex discrimination. This is because, statistically, more women than men undertake the primary childcare role, so a requirement to work full time will have a disparate impact on the sexes and put women at a particular disadvantage when compared to men. If the employee cannot work full time, and the employer cannot objectively justify the need for her to do so, any subsequent dismissal, either actual or constructive, is highly likely to amount to indirect sex discrimination.