aibu to take this matter further?

(18 Posts)
misspoirot Mon 13-Jan-14 22:43:27

Just hoping for a bit of perspective from an outside source.

I've been on mat leave and am due to go back to work soon. I know there have been some changes whilst i've been away so i contacted work recently to confirm whether my job had been affected and if so, what hours and days i would be expected to do upon my return. I was clear that my intention was to return unless the new hours/days made this impossible and that if this was the case, then i would let them know asap. I wanted to be up front and as fair as possible as i've worked there for quite a few years and it's a small team who know each other well.

I heard nothing, so having contacted them again i was then informed that there is no work at the moment so no hours available for the next few months. It was also a bit sketchy as to what i'll be working when work picks up in a few months.

While this news didn't come as a complete surprise (i know that things have not been going well for them) i am upset that i've only just been informed - with just over one week until i'm due to return. They must've known they were going to lay me off for a few months and the more i think about it the more upset i am that i have not been kept informed.

I've given this company a good chunk of my working life and now i feel like they couldn't give a crap about that. I was told that they would understand if i decided i had to find something else. I feel like i've been left with no choice.

Like many small businesses, this place relies on the goodwill of others and the fact that we are 'friends' as well as employees. Because of this, and because i'm a very unconfrontational person and because this news was delivered in a very friendly polite manner i would find it difficult taking this matter further, however, i also think that if we really were 'friends' things would have been handled very differently and that they're hoping i'll quietly ignore that fact that i have pretty much lost my job as i know it.

aibu to feel upset at this situation or should i just accept there is no work and suck it up?

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 13-Jan-14 22:45:18

What does your contract say about work hours? What was the situation before you went on maternity leave?

maddening Mon 13-Jan-14 22:47:41

were you a permanent full time employee with contracted hours pre mat leave?

ArgyMargy Mon 13-Jan-14 22:47:48

You cannot be made redundant whilst on maternity leave.

ShirazSavedMySanity Mon 13-Jan-14 22:53:36

Argy yes you can be made redundant whilst on mat leave. I was. I worked for a government dept & the fundin was cut therefore my role no longer existed hence the redundancy and the big fat redundancy pay cheque

Back to OP, this is work, it is your livelihood, not a friendship thing. If your role was to become obsolete then you Gould have had meeting After meeting, all
Documented with the possibility of the role being made redundant.

Legally they cannot just announce a week before you return that they don't have any work for you any more.

tiggytape Mon 13-Jan-14 22:55:47

You have enhanced protection against redundancy whilst on maternity leave and rights about returning to your job (assuming it was a formal employment - it isn't clear if you were freelance or doing informal hours).

They sound like they aren't officially making you redundant but hoping that you'll jump ship if they ignore you enough and put you off.
Unfortunately this happens to many women on maternity leave and you'd have every right to take it further. Whether you do so or not though can be a tougher call because taking action whilst job hunting and having a young family is something many people can't face. Most people just accept it and get a new job - I'm not saying that's right but that's the most common response. If you did want to get advice though ACAS is a good place to start

NatashaBee Mon 13-Jan-14 22:57:21

You can be made redundant whilst on maternity leave. However the company would need to be careful that you were selected by a fair process which did not put you at a disadvantage by the fact you were on mat leave. You would also be given priority to apply for any other vacancies in the organization, and obviously you would receive redundancy pay calculated to include the time you were on mat leave.

OP, did you have a zero hours contract? If not, they can't just tell you not to come in. I would call ACAS.

EATmum Mon 13-Jan-14 22:58:04

Have they gone through a redundancy process with you? Presumably if you've been there a while you will be entitled to the statutory payment at least, plus notice and holidays. I would certainly be asking for a meeting to give them the opportunity to explain all these arrangements plus any redeployment and alternatives they've considered.

misspoirot Mon 13-Jan-14 23:04:31

With my industry my hours fluctuate depending on the time of year. I'm either working 20 or 40 hours per week so technically still classed as full time even at the quietest time of year.

My contract only covers working during the busy periods and makes no provision for the other half of the year. (complete oversight on my and my old bosses part as he asked me to stay on permanantly through the quiet periods and neither of us thought to update my contract. This was quite a few years ago)

Upshot is my contract doesn't cover this part of the year.... even though i have been working at this time normally for years.

Anyway, not a lot i can do given this situation with my contract :-(

Hope this makes sense

splasheeny Mon 13-Jan-14 23:07:07

Even with your contact, it sounds like a rubbish situation.

Do you have a union you can contact?

misspoirot Mon 13-Jan-14 23:09:37

tiggytape, that is exactly what my dp thinks. Hoping i'll just jump ship so they don't have to worry about going formal

Terrortree Mon 13-Jan-14 23:12:30

Pop down to your local CAB and ring ACAS. I've got it in my head that if you've worked a certain pattern for an established period of time (e.g. years) it can negate the wording of the contract. I may be wrong about this but it's worth having a chat with ACAS regarding this.

Certainly, it seems that they want you to go away quietly but there's an element of constructive dismissal here (related to sex discrimination). It may be that they have to pay you redundancy.

Friends in business are not friends, I'm afraid.

misspoirot Mon 13-Jan-14 23:16:04

no redundancy process. In fact the word redundancy has not even been used. It was very much worded that there's no work for you until..(few months)......bla bla bla so you can either hang on or we'll 'understand' if you decide to leave.....

Not part of a union but will try ACAS

Busyoldfool Mon 13-Jan-14 23:30:59

I agree with you Terrortree. If you have been working and they have been paying you for a certain pattern of work then that constitutes a contract - I think.

Copied this from the ACAS website. (second the advice to get in touch with them). The third point seems to apply to you. No reason why you can't keep relations good but you need to protect your self. Good Luck

But contracts are also made up of terms that have not been spelt out. This is either because they are:

too obvious to mention: for example, you would not expect a contract to say that 'an employee will not steal from an employer'

necessary to make the contract work: for example, if you are employed as a driver it is assumed that you have a valid driving license

custom and practice: some terms of a contract can become established over time

NatashaBee Tue 14-Jan-14 00:43:48

I would still follow up on what Terrortree suggested. If you've been on a temporary contract for long enough then the fact that you're only a temp is irrelevant for certain things, and you have to be treated as a permanent employee for those purposes.

WeeBitWobbly Tue 14-Jan-14 01:04:44

How valuable is the job to you?
Maybe accepting a longer break until hours pick up might not be a bad thing, especially with having dc, or can you find another job you would want to do?
I wouldn't go down the acas route as I don't think it was intentional just my opinion though.

EATmum Tue 14-Jan-14 08:41:19

If your contract doesn't cover this time but your normal hours have done over a significant period then PPs are right - that's now part of your contract through custom and practice. A contract doesn't have to be written down to be binding - just makes it easier if people do make things clear in writing.

misspoirot Tue 14-Jan-14 09:13:40

weebitwobbly, initially that's what i thought, but the more people ask what's happening with my job the more i'm getting annoyed when explaining the facts.

I left this out of my op as i didn't want to totally out myself but what the hell..my partner also works at the same company and had his hours halved before xmas so they knew the position it would put us in but they still didn't bother to give me more than 9 days notice.

This is all verbal and nothing has been put in writing. I'm thinking of asking via email for clarification and then taking this to CAB and ACAS - thanks to everyone who mentioned this.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now