To feel weird about mat replacement being given a job?

(53 Posts)
BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 08:33:39

I'm back to work in a couple of weeks after 8 months on maternity leave.

It seems I'm returning to a department in disarray - we have no line manager after the last, incompetent one, was sent on her way; and the wider department is full of temps and apparently warring factions.

My team was made up of me, same level equivalent in different role (pt) and the manager.

Currently there is my replacement, same level equivalent is doing an extra day and is defacto boss, and there's a ft temp.

I found out yesterday through a colleague from the wider office that my mat replacement has been given a job on a much longer term basis (and possibly permanent).

I feel pretty weird about this. She has some strengths but is not as experienced as me and there are fundamental elements of the job where she is reportedly quite weak.

Yet she has had a job created for her, and as things stand, we'll be at the same level - and I will be at a disadvantage as she's been there for the last 8 months.

No job was advertised, and no one has had the common courtesy to keep me informed. Is this even legal? My ego feels edged out and frankly a bit miffed. I appreciate some of this is general angst about returning to such chaos (I anticipate same-level person and I will be locked in a battle for power for quite some time) - but feel unsettled by this development.


MajorGrinch Thu 27-Feb-14 08:38:03

My ego feels edged out and frankly a bit miffed.

This says it all.

Why should your company lose the skills and training they've invested in this person who has been doing your job for the past 8 months?

It makes a lot more sense than recruiting someone new surely?

I'd suggest you suck it up & concentrate on getting your own skills back up to speed before worrying about someone else's....

Fregola Thu 27-Feb-14 08:38:31

It sounds like an opportunity for you to push for the old line manager's job and get a promotion to me.

coco44 Thu 27-Feb-14 08:39:25

well if the department is full of temps, then I think your job is very secure.Iam not sutre why you think it would be illegal for this woman to have her contract extended? Why would you have wanted to apply for a job on the same level?

GinSoakedMisery Thu 27-Feb-14 08:41:46

Legally, your employers can only keep your position open to you for the first 6 months of your maternity leave. After that they can move you where they want as long as you stay at the same level.

I can understand why you're feeling miffed, but if you've not worked with your mat cover before, how do you know she is not as good as you?

Give her the benefit of the doubt until you start back. And enjoy the rest of your maternity leave.

midnightagents Thu 27-Feb-14 08:42:15

I think Yabu. I honestly don't see the problem unless they are giving her your job and sacking you. It doesn't sound like they are doing this so what's the problem? Better to share the load surely? Not much worse than working in an understaffed environment.

WooWooOwl Thu 27-Feb-14 08:45:57


littledrummergirl Thu 27-Feb-14 08:46:42

Why will you be locked in a power struggle? That seems ridiculous to me.
Go to work, do your job and then go home to your baby.
If you think you should be in charge then show your bosses how good you are.
What makes you think that she is weak in areas, have you worked with her or are you basing this on hearsay from people who want to sooth your ego.
This is the sort of attitude I would expect to see in a school playground not a professional workplace.

MidniteScribbler Thu 27-Feb-14 08:49:02

I anticipate same-level person and I will be locked in a battle for power for quite some time

Or you could grow up, work together with this person, do the job you are paid to do and remember that you are an employee, not a despotic dictator hell bent on world domination.

Lottiedoubtie Thu 27-Feb-14 08:50:30

Yabu, it's nothing to do with you if she has been offered a job that extends her contract but doesn't push you out.

Plenty of people get jobs this way.

cozietoesie Thu 27-Feb-14 08:52:12

Think of things from her perspective. It's entirely possible that she's been desperate for a job and is completely thrilled to get something more permanent - and maybe is even full of trepidation and nerves about your own return!

Go into work, smile and take her under your wing and enjoy getting back to the day job.

WorraLiberty Thu 27-Feb-14 08:52:24


'Locked in a battle for power' kind of says it all.

Just go and do your job to the best of your ability and don't worry about who has more 'power'.

BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 09:06:08

The power struggle will be with the one who's 4 days a week and acting like she's the boss, not my replacement.

We used to work well together to offset the inept boss but she has now decided she's in charge. She refuses to take on board my very rational, very logical ideas for creating some semblance of order in the office and is a very domineering character (I am not).

I'm happy that my stand-in has done a good enough job to stay.

I just feel weird that where there used to be 1 ft person (me) there now appears to be 3. All 4 of us are on the same paygrade.

I will definitely be applying for the manager's job but it still hasn't been approved for recruitment (she left in Jan I think).

I know IABU, but I just feel weird about it.

cozietoesie Thu 27-Feb-14 09:17:07

I suspect that a large part of the weirdness is just the going back to work. (You're bound to feel uncertain about things and a little estranged from the situation.)

Just relax as much as possible, don't tire yourself out rushing around like a mad thing in the first few days - and then reassess working life in a week or two once you're reaccustomed to things.

kerala Thu 27-Feb-14 09:22:34

You sound like the loon who utterly screwed over my dh. He was seconded to a client company as mat leave cover was never going to work there permanently as had a good job elsewhere. But he's amazing at his job and all the management rated him. He worked on a complex matter for months. Mat leave nutter returns and gives entire piece of work to her pal who knew nothing just because she couldn't bear it that her replacement had done a good job. Losing that work cost dh his promotion all because of some insecure new mothers ego

PlumSykes Thu 27-Feb-14 09:26:48

I think you know you are being irrational, but that's okay. Going back after mat leave is bound to make you feel vulnerable, and a bit mental. Try to keep an open mind, see how the land lies when you get back, and go from there.

YouAreTalkingRubbish Thu 27-Feb-14 09:30:31

YABU and a bit silly. sad Why on earth would you think you 'will be locked ins power struggle'. It sounds very competitive.

PumpkinPie2013 Thu 27-Feb-14 09:31:50

I think yabu. It sounds as if things are in a bit of a mess with the depature of the line manager and a lot of temp staff.

By offering your mat cover a more permanent job the company can continue to develop the skills they've started to develop in her and things can start to become a bit more ordered again.

You could go for the line manager role if it comes up and you want it?

I'd say go back with an open mind. She might well be a good colleague and even become a friend.

PumpkinPie2013 Thu 27-Feb-14 09:33:33

Forgot to say - at our place we often keep people who have covered maternity leaves if they are good and we can retain them without displacing the person returning.

comicsansisevil Thu 27-Feb-14 09:40:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DonnaDishwater Thu 27-Feb-14 09:41:01

Why should the employer not keep on the temp if they are doing a good job?

DonnaDishwater Thu 27-Feb-14 09:41:58

Is this in the public sector? Because it sounds very disorganised and disfunctional to me.

softlysoftly Thu 27-Feb-14 09:42:25

I actually understand, Inwas mat leave cover then left, I was contacted and offered a permanent job there taking over part of the role and accepted.

We actually like each other but there is still a tension, I am one going on mat and no idea what will happen.

It's actually not as irrational as people are saying, a workplace in disarray, lots of change, all leads to a sense of insecurity which can be valid in some cases. However that is the companies responsibility to rectify, it's not actually fair to hold it against the person who has accepted a job in good faith.

It's all very we'll saying that you shouldn't worry at all, that is only if you are working for a good and stable company.
However you can't do anything other than a good job!

ViviPru Thu 27-Feb-14 09:47:59

In high street retail fashion design, the vast majority of workers are female between the ages of 25-40. As such, whole swathes of departments are staggered on maternity leave at the same time and it's very unusual for someone to return from their leave to a department that resembles anything like it did when she left, and also unusual for temps not to be taken on FT, often in the role they covered.

Stop feeling weird about it and focus on getting that manager's job!

phoolani Thu 27-Feb-14 10:02:01

This happened to a friend of mine. Turned out, they did it because they all just preferred the woman who did the mat cover - she was 'perkier' it seems - and when my friend returned they all basically made their preference clear. To the extent that my friend lasted about 3 horrible months before she allowed herself to be forced out.

Bearbehind Thu 27-Feb-14 10:16:50

She has some strengths but is not as experienced as me

Experience doesn't mean you are better at the job than she is

there are fundamental elements of the job where she is reportedly quite weak.

Says who? People who have kept in touch while you've been off are hardly likely to sing her praises to you.

i will be at a disadvantage as she's been there for the last 8 months.

This sounds more likely to be the real reason you are worried- you think people might see she actually does a better job than you.

Maternity cover personnel often get retained as the company has spent time and money training them. If there is a suitable position that needs filling, they would be mad not to use them if they are good.

You need to concentrate on proving your worth when you go back because if you go in and air the thoughts you've expressed on here you will be sealing your own fate.

redskyatnight Thu 27-Feb-14 10:18:55

Considering you've been on maternity leave for months you seem remarkably well informed about the staff's strengths and weaknesses and how people are behaving at work. Can I suggest that you wait till you are back and actually see how it works out rather than (presumably) relying on gossip?

Jess03 Thu 27-Feb-14 10:47:47

I do think an element of competitiveness is in almost every workplace, and always worse when people feel there are promotions up for grabs. You've probably forgotten about it and it's now stressing you out. I'd relax and just do your best. If you start over reacting or badmouthing anyone you'll make yourself look unprofessional.

Alisvolatpropiis Thu 27-Feb-14 11:28:18

Yabu but I can understand why you feel a little strange about it, having been away for 8 months.

BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 12:53:29

I can see how this looks that I'm just being a bitch.

The job is a public sector office-type job but it has quite a lot of public facing elements so I've been able to keep half an eye on things from afar.

There is a crisis control element to the job which I know she has done very little of while in post - I have had meetings with several staff including the department manager while off so I know she's not addressed those issues.

Part of me is delighted that our repeated requests for extra staff are finally being granted.

I think the part of me that is frustrated is the part that knows we will ALL be on the same level and paygrade, whereas I will be expected to take on the higher level responsibility.

The employee herself is pleasant and I have no 'beef' with her. But I do find it difficult the way everything has been handled. When I have been in to the office I have been talked down to by the part-time worker and the mat cover and if that continues, life will be pretty miserable.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 27-Feb-14 13:01:42

I just feel weird that where there used to be 1 ft person (me) there now appears to be 3. All 4 of us are on the same pay grade.

So you used to feel like you were in charge because you were there the most, and now you won't.

I get that you feel unsettled about going back into a completely different dynamic to the one you left, but surely it is better to just accept that and get your head down and go for the promotion once you get back, rather than getting yourself into a stew about imagined slights and anticipated 'power-struggles'?

BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 13:22:56

I didn't feel in charge because I was there the most - we had a line manager. But I had to take responsibility for nearly everything that she was supposed to look after because she simply wasn't able to do the job.

I was effectively unofficially acting up.

The pt one is supposed to be doing a different role but has acted across (and up) to be in charge.

It's complicated.

I had been planning to go back, reassess how things are, and start implementing better processes. That is still the plan even if there are different (extra) people there.

But on an emotional level, I had been looking forward to having 'my' role back - I will just need to adapt to the fact that it will now be even less defined what it was.

It's also frustrating that, without a boss to make the call on big decisions, everything will now have to be decided by an autonomous collective which will take extra time, reduce efficiency, and will water down 'unpopular' viewpoints which sometimes need to be heeded.

Bearbehind Thu 27-Feb-14 13:34:10

Sorry OP but you sound like a proper PITA.

How do you know you will have to take on a higher level of responsibility?

Just because your replacement hasn't focused on specific area of your role it doesn't mean you will have to do everything.

It sounds to me a bit like you wanted it all to go to rat shit while you were away and, now it hasn't and you have to go back to a job with a different dynamic your nose is out of joint.

If you go back with this negative and superior attitude I can't see you lasting very long.

BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 13:50:45

I would actually welcome some positive changes - the situation was ridiculous when I left.

I can't get across the disparity in roles, divisions of duties and responsibilities without outing myself - but I know my cover has not done the duties I was doing when I went off, she has simply done the job she was appointed to do.

Suffice to say that I now accept that I need the head of department to allocate some kind of 'boss' to our office, I'm also being unreasonable to have an emotional connection to what used to be my job.

Wantsunshine Thu 27-Feb-14 13:50:57

You sound a delight to work with! Perhaps your replacement has done a better job than you and you colleagues are just being nice.
Just see how things are when you get back. If there is a more senior role to apply for then go for it but don't be surprised if your maternity replacement does also. You don't need to have done every aspect of a job to be deemed good.

Bearbehind Thu 27-Feb-14 14:00:03

Seriously OP, wind your neck in.

You can't say 'she has simply not done the job she was appointed to do' as you don't know what your superiors have changed whilst you have been off.

She might not have done the job you used to do but this person has clearly done the job your seniors wanted doing otherwise she wouldn't have been retained.

You can't seriously expect to have been away for 8 months and then swan back in and change everything to how you want it when they have built up a way of working that suits them in the mean time.

If you don't get over yourself you are more likely to find yourself out of a job than promoted.

BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 14:08:25

I think that's the point wantsunshine - in real life, and especially at work, I am the person people go to for favours because I find it hard to say no. I work bloody hard to provide the best service I can.

Unless given some sort of licence of authority, I will avoid conflict at all costs - eg I'd work hours over in order to complete extra work. I respect authority and will take orders unless it is my job to advise otherwise (in which case I offer my expertise, diplomatically explain why x is a better way and let them decide on course of action if necessary).

I will do extra work, take on extra responsibility for free if I feel valued. But after the chaos of the last 18 months, which has not been resolved, I do not feel valued. Finding a job for a temp is a huge endorsement when the person they've been filling in for has had to put up with as much crap as I have - and underpaid.

In real life I am calm and polite. So I take my hurt, angry feelings online, where it is safe.

I know you just see the bitch though smile

Smilesandpiles Thu 27-Feb-14 14:10:50

At the risk of offending you, get over yourself and get on with your job as best you can.

Maternity leave or not, your employers have to do what is best for the company wether you are there or not. You can not take 8 months off work and expect to waltz back in when you choose to come back adn for everything to be the same as it was when you left.

So she got a temp job and it's turned into something permanent for her, well good luck to her, it's hard enough finding a job as it is. You are lucky you have a job to go back to at all in this climate, but if you don't change your attitude and put whatever gripe you have behind you, will find yourself at the dole office with bugger all chance of finding another job with a small child in tow.

Bearbehind Thu 27-Feb-14 14:13:45

PMSL at all the references to working for free etc- it's well seen you work in the public sector- in the private sector all that stuff is par for the course.

Why would you feel valued after not being there for 8 months? You haven't been there for people to make you feel valued.

You've know idea how it will actually work when you get back but it seems you've already made your mind up about how bad it will be.

Jess03 Thu 27-Feb-14 14:36:24

Op it may be a better idea to post about your concerns in the returning to work section, you have a right to be apprehensive. You've always got the option of looking for other jobs if it doesn't seem like a nice environment when you go back.

BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 14:53:55

Do you know what? I get it. I get that I'm not supposed to attach any kind of emotion to my working identity - but before I had my child it was the only thing that was truly my own.

I apologise if by expressing that I feel sad and concerned about losing said identity that offends you.

I am also sorry that you think it's ok to assassinate someone's character based on not much.

I didn't ask 'am I a nice person to work with' or 'do I deserve any dignity or respect in the workplace' or even 'do I deserve a job' yet you freely tell me that I'm an unpleasant person to know who should expect to be fired.

I asked was I unreasonable to feel weird about this development. I know I am. This was confirmed.

In hindsight, I should have asked this question on Going back to work where my perspective may have been considered at least with some sympathy.

Instead I now have a long list of other things to feel anxious about before returning. Thanks!

I hold no grudge against the cover - agreed, good luck to her, I know how it feels to have lots of contract extensions. I am frustrated at the crappy way the team has been treated in the recent past and therefore have used my time away to come up with workable solutions, after a period of handover. Some would even applaud such a sensible approach.

But it's ok. I understand. I am unreasonable. And I am a Bad Person.

Least now I know!

BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 14:56:10

Oh and a point of order bearbehind I said 'she has simply done the job she was appointed to do', not 'simply not done'.

Slight difference...

BraveLilBear Thu 27-Feb-14 14:56:51

Lol Jess03 cross-post, I agree! smile

eeetheygrowupsofast Thu 27-Feb-14 15:03:09

There is always a risk when you leave your job for any length of time that someone as good or better than you will be noted - take it from me, an MD!!

I'm not saying women shouldn't go on mat leave obvs! I did twice. But often covering staff turn out to be brilliant and I take them on and I'd warn anyone to think very carefully about leaving their role for any reason other than ill health/mat leave/compassionate leave (for eg sabbatical for travelling) as you do put yourself at risk.

Jess03 Thu 27-Feb-14 15:06:41

Well true but actually even if my replacement is brilliant, doesn't mean I'm not still better than a lot of other people they can't get rid of. Dog eat dog mentality is the problem with so many offices. Be good at what you do, you'll find another job if needed. There will nearly always be people both better and worse at your job than you.

Wantsunshine Thu 27-Feb-14 15:12:52

I must just add that it is rubbish going back after maternity leave so can understand the apprehension. I hated that it all jogged along fine without me. It will be fine when you return at least the people you work with must be nice as you have all kept in contact.

Bearbehind Thu 27-Feb-14 16:30:44

I did spot my error after I posted it OP, blush but my post still makes sense either way.

A person was taken on to provide cover for your maternity leave. In that time the structure if the department has radically changed, therefore it is totally logical that your replacement hasn't been doing exactly what you did.

Stop making up imaginary scenarios in your mind and wait until you actually go back.

If you you in with a fixed view if what will and won't happen you will make your life a misery. If you go back with an open mind and a willingness to embrace change things will be fine.

You mentioned about decisions now having to be made democratically and made it sound like you would always be out voted. Maybe you should think about why that is the case.

If you always want something different to everyone else maybe it's time you look for another job anyway.

Bearbehind Thu 27-Feb-14 16:38:20

Sorry you actually said by an autonomous collective but it still sounded like you wouldn't be happy with the decisions.

sashh Fri 28-Feb-14 06:27:29

Is this even legal?

No absolutely not. When any member of staff is on maternity leave no other posts can be advertised, no one else can be employed and all promotions are put on hold.

Seriously OP

I think you are stressed and worried about going back, which is quite reasonable. Try to enjoy your last days as a ft mum and worry about work when you get back.

wowfudge Fri 28-Feb-14 06:45:51

If this is how you are feeling about somewhere you haven't been for eight months, it doesn't sound like a very nice place to work. As for the rumours/gossip about other workers in the section/dept - ignore all that and make up your own mind when you are back there and working with them.

You sound insecure and if you know you do a good job, then don't worry about it.

BraveLilBear Fri 28-Feb-14 12:45:30

This was a bit of a dream job when I got it but it all descended into chaos a couple of months after I started when a senior consultant came in and upset a lot of the managers. We've been under or inadequately staffed since.

The reason I questioned the legality is that we have been repeatedly told we cannot create new posts due to structural issues and a budget overspend (above our heads) that has been continuing for some years. It was also my understanding that, under employment law, any new positions must be advertised. As this is an extra post, surely this counts. But I may be wrong.

I will see how the land lies when I return and hope I've not been entirely sidelined. If it's unworkable and the manager's job still hasn't been advertised, I'll be reluctantly forced to look elsewhere.

Bearbehind Fri 28-Feb-14 13:02:21

There is no law that says jobs must be advertised, internal policy might dictate that advertising is required though.

What difference does it make if they had advertised the job though, it's the same as your current job so you wouldn't have applied for it anyway?

What I don't understand, and what is making you come across badly here, is that you have been moaning about the department being under resourced yet now they have taken on someone else you are still moaning.

This person has been in the role for 8 months and has clearly done a good job otherwise she wouldn't have been retained.

It sounds very much like you expected them to discuss everything with you beforehand and that just isn't how things work, even if you'd not been on maternity leave, senior personnel can make decisions that their teams might not like.

You really do need to get a grip and go back with an open mind, not some preconceived ideas based on gossip and your vision of how you wanted things to be when you returned.

EllieQ Fri 28-Feb-14 14:30:15

OP, I work in the public sector and I'm sadly familiar with the kind of situation you describe - under-staffed, no manager, can't fill vacancies etc.

However, I noticed that you said your mat replacement was doing exactly the job she was asked to do, while you were doing your job and extra work (as so often happens), including covering for your manager. It could be that your replacement's refusal to do a huge amount of additional work has promoted management to realise that they need extra people (rare in the public sector but it does happen!).

With regard to vacancies having to be advertised, that's not always the case - following a recent restructure we've had posts that were only advertised internally. This may have happened in this case.

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