Is this discriminatory?

(16 Posts)
PregnantParker Fri 15-Nov-13 18:22:53

Hi all, I'm a regular poster but have NC as I don't want to out myself, and the specifics of my query are, well, specific to my workplace!

I work for the NHS and pay £20pm to park at the hospital where I work shifts. Due to the imminent (and long overdue) construction of a multi-storey car park, the trust has asked for staff to volunteer to surrender their permits for the duration of the construction period. This is expected to be 6 months, but no date for this to begin has been confirmed yet.n return, this who surrendered their permits (and park off site or use a park and ride scheme, or pay the public rate) will get a year's free parking when the multi-storey is completed.

I volunteered for this when it was first advertised, which I believe was back in May. I'm now on 6m maternity leave, due to return in May 2014. I was discussing a related matter with a rather officious admin person last week while I was there for an antenatal appointment, and she decided to take it on herself to find out if being on mat leave disqualified me for the scheme. I did NOT ask her this. She emailed me today to say she'd checked and people on mat leave can't take part, even though the fact that the work hasn't even started yet means it definitely will overlap with my return to work. I've responded asking for this in writing, as this is the first time anyone's suggested mat leave might affect eligibility.

My thinking is, if I was male, I couldn't be pregnant, therefore couldn't be on mat leave, therefore couldn't have this financially beneficial opportunity removed from me. I think this is discrimination and intend to contest it, so I've asked her to send this decision to me in writing. Do I have the slightest chance of winning this, oh wise ladies?

tribpot Fri 15-Nov-13 18:28:09

So you were there as a patient? WTF did it have to do with this person if you were an employee of the hospital at all? I don't think you should have asked for it in writing, unless this person is also your line manager, but simply responded 'thanks I will look into this' (and then not, if you so wished).

Did you not have to surrender your pass anyway for the duration of your leave? I don't see anything discriminatory in itself about you not being able to benefit from a sacrifice you aren't actually making, and I would expect the same to apply to anyone on secondment or sick leave for the duration of the car park works.

However, it depends how they've drawn up the qualification rules for the free parking. If it states only that people on maternity leave aren't eligible you may have more of a case. Surely your line manager can assist with the current policies, if you can't get in to the intranet.

PregnantParker Fri 15-Nov-13 18:40:39

My line manager is clinical, she wouldn't have the faintest idea about parking and would direct me to sort it out myself with the relevant department.

No, I didn't have to surrender my permit. I didn't surrender it on my last mat leave either, just kept paying for it. Which ended up coming in very useful as my DC was in NICU for a month, and for the month before his birth I was there 3-4 times a week for appointments.

The problem is I WILL be making the sacrifice, I just don't know how long for. There's no confirmed start date for the building work, so no date yet confirmed for those giving up their permits to do so. As it'll be for 6 months when it does start, and I'm already 2 weeks into 6 months leave, I will have a period of time where I have to park elsewhere.

There is no published policy regarding parking permits/maternity leave/sick leave, this woman has taken it upon herself to have a clause drawn up disqualifying those on maternity leave. My line manager really, really won't care!

PregnantParker Fri 15-Nov-13 18:42:58

Just to further clarify, this person's job is to do the admin for the car park permits, but she's not administrating this permit surrender scheme, so it really had nothing to do with her. I don't know why she decided to do this, it makes no difference to her, she was almost gleeful at the thought of me not being allowed to join the scheme because of maternity leave!

tribpot Fri 15-Nov-13 19:19:24

this woman has taken it upon herself to have a clause drawn up disqualifying those on maternity leave

How has she done that if she isn't dealing with the permit surrender scheme? And if she has and it specifically only excludes people on maternity, she could be on a bit of a sticky wicket.

DontCallMeDaughter Fri 15-Nov-13 19:27:22

I'm guessing this probably is discriminatory, you can't take away a "benefit" from someone on Ordinary Mat Leave (first 6 months). Send a copy of the clause to your HR dept and ask them... Tell them the clause only got added when you checked the details... wink

PregnantParker Fri 15-Nov-13 20:30:46

Maybe I should've phrased that differently, but there was no clause about maternity leave until she decided to query it. She had no reason to do so, it's not part of her job.

mariefab Sat 16-Nov-13 08:32:49

If I've understood this correctly...

Around May 2013 the Trust asked staff to volunteer to surrender their parking permits for the duration of the future construction of a multi-storey car park. The benefit promised, by the Trust, for so volunteering was free parking for a year on completion of the build.

At the time the original offer was made by the Trust, there were no potentially discriminatory exclusions as to which staff were eligible to volunteer for this benefit.

The Admin person, after speaking to you, has declared that the Trust's permit surrender scheme excludes staff on maternity leave!

You volunteered around May.
Do you have any evidence of this? If not, can you get it?

In your place...

I'd write to (or email) whoever I dealt with when I volunteered in May stating that I received an email on 15th November stating that staff on maternity leave can't take part in the Trust's voluntary permit surrender scheme.
I'd state that, as far as I was aware when I volunteered around May 2013, the original agreement didn't include this exclusion.
I'd ask if the information contained in the email of 15th November represented a recent change to the Trust's scheme.
If so, I'd like to know what, if any, non-discriminatory reasons the Trust has for excluding staff on maternity leave.

... but that's just me. My daughter's on maternity leave at the moment and I'm feeling quite millitant on your behalf.

PregnantParker Sat 16-Nov-13 13:11:22

You've got it exactly marie. I have an email which was sent to me in about August confirming I'd joined the scheme, but that's the only proof I have.

mariefab Sat 16-Nov-13 14:04:50

That should be fine.

I can't imagine that you'll get any answer other than something like, 'The email was a mistake, staff on maternity leave are not excluded' because the NHS don't generally go out of their way to commit direct discrimination.

But, just in case you find that you're dealing with someone ignorant of the law, the relevant section of the Equality Act 2010 is 18(4).

www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/18

FunkyBoldRibena Sat 16-Nov-13 15:54:19

Oh yes, got to love an officious admin person who doesn't know the law. I'd respond with 'I definitely need this in writing, if you could send that over thanks'. And then send it straight to HR. What a twonk.

kelpeed Sun 17-Nov-13 01:20:13

I'm liking your militancy marie. They cannot retrospectively apply the mat leave exclusion that was apparently introduced in November. You applied for the pass in May based on criteria in place at that time.

PinkSnowAndStars Sun 17-Nov-13 10:04:39

haha... I can see why you namechanged!! I think its the same place i work. SMH? and for what its worth, I think that legally they can't discriminate just because you are on maternity leave!!! totally wrong!

PregnantParker Sun 17-Nov-13 11:20:21

Wow, there must be 2 hospitals doing this as it's honestly not SMH! Thanks for the responses, will update when I hear anything, hope marie is right and they'll decide it was all a mistake!

PregnantParker Fri 22-Nov-13 16:26:01

Just an update as promised - I received an email from higher up than the admin lady today, confirming that the email was a mistake and of course employes on maternity leave can join the scheme!

DontCallMeDaughter Fri 22-Nov-13 17:02:24

Well done! Great news, I'm not at all surprised, it all seemed very odd!

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