To refuse to follow boss' orders whilst on maternity leave?

(47 Posts)
NoThatIsNotConvenient Mon 22-Jul-13 22:40:02

Have nc'ed for this as I'm pretty sure at least 2 of my colleagues are AIBU regulars!

Basically I am currently on mat leave and have been for a few months, still got a few months to go before starting work again. I have visited work a few times with baby and am normally on good terms with everyone including my boss.

However...I was in charge of a project earlier this year where we received some funding from a charitable organisation to go towards the project. I applied for the funding myself on behalf of the company I work for and had to go through a pretty rigorous process to get it. This was all on top of my normal duties. The project went well and I was told that I'd be contacted by the charity to tie up all the financial stuff afterwards, i.e. sorting out the accounts and proving I spent the money correctly.

However they didn't get in touch before I went on mat leave, despite me telling them when I was finishing work. I have been emailing the 2 people who set up the charity grant to ask for the forms I needed to fill in but had no reply so was unable to do the work. I then got an email today from my line manager (cc'd to the big boss) to say that I need to do the work tonight and give it to her tomorrow to send on to the charity as apparently someone else at the charity has just discovered the paperwork is incomplete and is panicking, but it's totally blaming me for the delay despite me keeping her in the loop throughout the process. The email also insinuates that I have lied about getting in touch with the charity (I have been calling/emailing my 2 contacts but only found out today that they have both left and not set up automated phone/email responses to that effect - so there was no proof on the charity's correspondence that I have been in touch when my boss called to check up on me.) I do have phone records and emails I could show her to prove I am telling the truth but she doesn't want to know.

The annoying thing is that I have done the work and sent it off to the charity, but because it was addressed to the name of someone who no longer works there, it's got lost. I did it by hand as it was annotating print-outs of bank statements etc.

The charity have apologised to me and agreed it's farcical and have given me more time to re-do the work but my boss has said (within the email) that she wants it all completed tonight and sent to her by tomorrow morning.

AIBU to refuse to do this? I really resent being made out to be disorganised and a liar (especially when the big boss is copied in) and also think a 1 night deadline is unreasonable for someone on mat leave. If I am being U then please tell me - examples of good responses to this email would also be appreciated!

gwenniebee Mon 22-Jul-13 22:42:07

YANBU, I'm pretty sure there are laws about this...

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 22-Jul-13 22:42:46

It's 11.45pm (or are you elsewhere?) how the hell are you supposed to do it? They are completely U!

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 22-Jul-13 22:44:11

Sorry, meant 10.45, was thinking "quarter to eleven" and typed the wrong number.

MalcolmTuckersMum Mon 22-Jul-13 22:44:26

I'm truly sorry that this isn't going to be helpful but you might like to give serious consideration to the Reply of the Night (ref wedding thread) - "Fuck off bitch - you on glue?"


AndHarry Mon 22-Jul-13 22:45:27

YANBU. That does not constitute 'reasonable' contact IMO.

AndHarry Mon 22-Jul-13 22:49:07

grin Malcolm I suppose the OP could always blame the sleepless nights and hormones...

I'm on maternity leave now. I don't take work calls (if it's that important then they will leave a voicemail) and O respond to emails at my own convenience. That probably makes me a PITA but I've seen what happens when people are available 24/7, 365 days a year, 45 years of their lives and I do not want to be one of them.

NoThatIsNotConvenient Mon 22-Jul-13 22:49:32

It's 10:45 here...I've gone to bed having done half of it (the most important half). I guess I have already kind of decided not to do the rest tonight and probably need help now about how to explain myself when she (inevitably) calls tomorrow to ask where it is. I'm not going to tell her I've done any of it but I'll send what I've done tonight to the charity so they're not inconvenienced any more.

I couldn't have started any earlier tonight as my dd is not sleeping brilliantly with the heat sad

I didn't realise there were laws about this? Tell me more...!

TarkaTheOtter Mon 22-Jul-13 22:50:02

I would reply (with cc to hr).
"As I am on maternity leave I will not be able to work overnight tonight. Please contact me at a reasonable time to discuss whether i wish to take a kit day at a time of mutual convenience."

Yes, send tarka's email. Spot on.

Then when you meet up take the proof that you have been on the ball with this and tell them you expect them to formally notify big bord that they were mistaken that you had messed up and apologise (and copy you in to this correspondence)

Tarka's email is spot on!

kickassangel Mon 22-Jul-13 23:05:25

You absolutely do not have to do it and can point blank refuse to have any contact - email/phone etc with work until you contact them about starting back.

If out of the goodness of your heart, you do this as a KIT day (keeping In Touch) they have to pay you.

Maybe just forward it to someone at HR, with the details you put here, asking them to intervene as you've been made to look incompetent and a liar to a big boss. Point out that you're on Mat Leave, and actually harassing a woman and undermining her work when she's on mat leave could lead them into a very nasty and expensive legal situation.

If there isn't a HR dept, decide how much you want to stand up for yourself, but at the very least respond, cc the big boss, pointing out that she has completely misunderstood the situation, and is now causing you emotional upset when you are on Mat Leave. Be concise, clear & factual. Tell them politely how very wrong they are, and point out that damaging your professional standing when you are on Mat Leave is highly unprofessional of them.

AndHarry Mon 22-Jul-13 23:05:38

Tarka's email is excellent.

What constitutes 'reasonable' contact is a bit of a grey area but I've always taken it to mean that the employer can/should contact the employee if, for example, there's a promotion coming up that they would be eligible to apply for, there are major changes in the structure of the company, changes in reporting lines, to discuss return to work etc. If there's a very rare occasion when a vitally important file cannot be found and the employee might know where it is then a quick call might be made. I've never seen it as including day-to-day work or announcements as work should be transferred properly during handover periods at the beginning and end of maternity leave.

Link here.

TheRealXkcdfangirl Mon 22-Jul-13 23:15:14

OP, the law says that basically you CAN'T do work during maternity leave without invalidating your eligibility for Maternity Pay, except for OPTIONAL "keeping in touch" days which must be mutually agreed in advance, must be paid for at normal pay rate (so they can't get you to do it for no extra pay) and you have every right to decline to do it. They can't demand this at no notice like this.

The 10 day rule applies to any day or part thereof, so if you do a single hour's work on a particular day that counts as one of your 10 days - so you can't do 8 hours work spread over 8 days and call it one KIT day.

Employers are supposed to leave you alone during maternity leave, except for low-pressure occasional reasonable contact - which this definitely is not!

NatashaBee Mon 22-Jul-13 23:19:16

I agree, Tarka's email is perfect.

NoThatIsNotConvenient Mon 22-Jul-13 23:19:23

Thanks for your help. Do I have to actually go into work for it to count as a KIT day or can I work from home and claim a day's pay?

Also is it up to my line manager to authorise this as I'm pretty sure I'll be told I should have done this before going on leave (even though I had no way of doing it!).

AndHarry Mon 22-Jul-13 23:28:38

Yes it can be from home but it must be mutually agreed in advance, including pay arrangements. Tarka's email really is good.

catkind Mon 22-Jul-13 23:33:35

You've had good advice, just to say I can't believe the cheek of your boss! Even if you had screwed it up, it's still not your responsibility to fix it while you are on maternity leave.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Mon 22-Jul-13 23:36:37

Agree with Tarka and Kickassangel. She has an absolute cheek and to be honest, I wouldn't have done any of the work again. You did it before you left, you tied up all loose ends and so quite frankly, it's not your problem.

I'd also be tempted to drop something to HR about being harassed whilst on maternity leave.

holidaysarenice Mon 22-Jul-13 23:45:50

Tarka's email plus a sentence saying politely 'I will also include copies of the emails sent to the charity for your benefit.'

Shows ur not lying and that you subtly picked up on her insinuation.

MojitoMagnet Mon 22-Jul-13 23:55:10

Yes it can be from home.
Whether this should have been sorted out before is completely irrelevant. Your right to an uniterrupted Maternity Leave still stands, and you have to be paid at at least minimum wage for any KIT day you do. This would be the case even if it was to do something that should have been done before you left. The fact that you did the work and the cockup is not your fault makes them doubly unreasonable, but you would still have these rights without this fact.

NoThatIsNotConvenient Tue 23-Jul-13 07:57:34

Ok, thanks for that. Will keep you updated as I just know she'll be in touch today!

giraffesCantWearSuncream Tue 23-Jul-13 08:18:35

Go and dump screaming hungry baby with a shitty nappy on her new while you do it.

Tarka has it spot on. Just stand your ground. You are on maternity leave, and doing this work outside of KIT arrangements could lead to your maternity pay being stopped. Your boss should have gotten someone else to look at it. Have they not cover in place? I have been someones cover and been covered and have both been expected to figure out what the person I was covering had done and left the fuck alone because I was on leave!

Just wanted to say I agree with the others.

Stand your ground

<not terribly helpful>

whois Tue 23-Jul-13 08:31:46

+1 for Tarka's email. Plus you defo need to forward copies of the emails you sent to the boss.

Shame you didn't photocopy everything before you sent it off - I now do that, or scan and email, for anything hand done after getting burnt once!

hermioneweasley Tue 23-Jul-13 08:35:24

It doesn't matter if you "should" have done it before mat leave - you are now on mat leave!

KIT days don't physically have to be in the office, so you could work from home at a convenient time to complete the work. If there is an email and phone record of you contacting the charity, then I would say it's their problem and they will have to wait until you are good and ready!

yanbu and they are being bloody cheeky. stand up for yourself or you'll end up being the scapegoat.

surely this woman can see it's not your fault?!?!?

beginnings Tue 23-Jul-13 08:41:59

Op even of you deleted the emails you sent IT still have them so her accusations will go nowhere.

Don't send in the work until you've agreed to a KIT day ( I did all 10 of mine at home so no worries there) and do let HR know. If you don't have HR, contact ACAS.

By the way, if you do have HR, your manager is in for a pretty uncomfortable conversation. I'd go through her for a short cut.

Groovee Tue 23-Jul-13 08:42:13

YANBU and your boss sounds like they are overstepping the line.

Dackyduddles Tue 23-Jul-13 08:42:46

Tbh my view having been in hr is that this is what colleagues or cover is for. Once x goes on mat leave or sick or holiday whoever is left sorts this stuff out. Sounds like a very bad cover plan to me, not that that's helpful I suppose than possibly backing up what you feel already.

Tarkas email was good. Kit days can be work from home yes. I would say be careful of how this is handled to protect yourself as this idiot could be contacting you at all points and end up inappropriate. Keep records of contact and diary of verbals. The amount of funny business that starts once mums go on mat leave is shocking.....

Dackyduddles Tue 23-Jul-13 08:44:33

Beginnings is also right. In many IT depts there is a process for employees to retrieve emails due to work. Find out.

Your boss sounds a dick.

Do you have access to work emails? I would forward those on to her.

Also get the charity to speak to her.

Do you have an HR contact? Copy them into correspondence with your line manager.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Tue 23-Jul-13 08:52:15

YANBU. Hope it works out Ok.

scratchandsniff Tue 23-Jul-13 09:03:40

What a cow! I'd be fuming. They can't impose deadlines like that on you, you're on mat leave ffs. I'd reply something along the lines of 'this is an unfortunate situation as I did my utmost to contact the people who I had been dealing with at the charity to sort this before I went on mat leave. I was not aware that they had in fact left the charity. Unfortunately I sent all of the forms in by post, and they seem to have been mislaid. If you check my work emails you will see copies of my emails trying to resolve this. I will try to help sort this situation, but as I am currently on mat leave it will have to be at a prearranged time mutually convenient to all'.

Scholes34 Tue 23-Jul-13 09:06:01

YANBU to stand your ground and not work whilst on maternity leave.

But surely you took a copy of the work you originally did before sending it off?

RevoltingPeasant Tue 23-Jul-13 09:40:54

OP just to say, I'm 23rding Tarka's email suggestion plus the one-liner about how 'I can provide copies of the correspondence I sent to the charity' or sth.

However, please do not do this over the phone -- email her. You need to have this in writing. Do cc HR and even the big boss if you feel comfortable with that.

But fgs don't leave it so that she can put what construction she likes on a verbal conversation.

helenthemadex Tue 23-Jul-13 10:54:53

she is out of order, have you heard from her yet?

arabesque Tue 23-Jul-13 11:31:23

Send Tarka's email. Also, I would demand a written apology to be placed on your personnel file.

TheSecretAgent Tue 23-Jul-13 14:36:22

OP - what did your boss say? Good advice above.

Floggingmolly Tue 23-Jul-13 15:36:02

Why are you having to do it all again from scratch? If there are no copies of the original work on file I can kind of understand why she assumes you haven't actually done anything to date...
Surely bad record keeping is going to look almost as bad as not doing it at all?

NoThatIsNotConvenient Wed 24-Jul-13 19:37:52

Yes I accept I should have photocopied what I did - I was 39 weeks pg at the time so was maybe not thinking as sensibly as I'm normally able to! Totally accept that was a silly thing to forget to do...

Anyway, my boss was surprisingly ok. I spoke to her and basically said what tarka suggested and she just took it straight away and didn't question me. I think that cc'ing in the big boss was not a good idea on her part as she sort of alluded to the fact that they'd told her to leave me alone and don't send emails like that while I'm on mat leave. Also saw big boss in person and they were great. Immediately told me they never suspected it was my fault and even had a laugh at my line manager getting all shirty. Told me to take as much time as I wanted doing it and if I needed then they'd ring up the charity and tell them to stop bugging me cos they're lucky I'm prepared to do it at all whilst on mat leave. They are going to pay me for a KIT day.

All in all a good outcome hopefully!

That's great news, always good to have a positive outcome.

Thanks for the update.

phantomnamechanger Wed 24-Jul-13 20:29:53

I'd love to have heard the convo between big boss/HR and your manager - bet they had a right telling off!

AndHarry Wed 24-Jul-13 20:32:30

Great outcome, thanks for updating smile

Dackyduddles Wed 24-Jul-13 20:32:38

Glad ok. Big boss sounds sensible.

Watch middle boss carefully.....

Good luck with birth x

well done! i think that was absolutely the right thing and it worked out well.

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