Anyone either raised a grievance ref. being sidelined post-maternity leave, or got any advice on the topic?

(18 Posts)
Namechangedforawhile Mon 18-Nov-13 19:05:09

I am tempted to raise a grievance with my employers as a result of being sidelined following maternity leave. I work in a senior management role and prior to mat leave my role was to run a big team with big budget. Since mat leave I've had a much lesser role, endless promises of a better one but nothing yet materialised or likely to in the near future. Where I think it is perhaps grey is that my employment contract just calls me senior manager in department x (rather than head of x line of business) and says something about being flexible and undertaking activities as allocated. However in reality since maternity leave, due to no longer having a 'proper' role, I now have less status and less opportunity to achieve well this year in terms of review, pay rise etc. which just doesn't seem fair. Essentially my career has been de-valued quite considerably in my eyes.

FYI - I took AML as well as OML. My previous role does still exist and is being undertaken by the person who covered it while I was off. When I returned (in summer) and wasn't put back in the role I didn't protest because I was promised other even better roles (which is what hasn't materialised). Resolving the situation also doesn't seem to be a high priority for those I work for, based on some recent events.

Any thoughts, anyone done similar? Should I just resign and leave on relatively good terms rather than put myself through the pain of a grievance? The outcome I would want from raising a grievance is either a decent role or an exit with some form of settlement agreement.

cat88 Mon 18-Nov-13 19:53:35

Namedchanged, I'm watching your thread with interest as I am in a similar position but maybe not quite so high flying. I am well aware we are coming up for a restructure and would rather have my previous safer seat than what I have been asked to do since returning from mat leave. I'm hoping to stay on, be positive and see how things go as there are few places I could move on to. My question to you is what would a grievance actually achieve? Would you still have to work with the same people once the process was finished?

onlysettleforbutterflies Mon 18-Nov-13 20:00:41

No advice as such, just sorry you have found yourself in a similar situation to mine. I came back, lady who was covering kept my role and I was offered a more exciting one. It didn't materialise and I was basically left with nothing to do. after 6 months of trying to sort it out myself, i went to hr and explained the situation, 2 weeks later I was offered redundancy! luckily another position came up, which I took, same money but much less stature. Its rubbish and seems in this day and age, we still get penalised for having children. I hope you get a resolution.

yummumto3girls Mon 18-Nov-13 22:33:23

As a matter of interest what gender is the person who was covering your old position and remains there?

Namechangedforawhile Tue 19-Nov-13 08:11:06

cat88 - when you start looking, there do seem to be quite a few people out there experiencing similar things - it's a real shame. In terms of my situation, I'd hope to either use a grievance as a trigger to take my role situation more seriously and resolve it more quickly or to exit with an agreement, rather than simply resigning. I would potentially have to work with the same people, yes. I'm a bit of a quandary between wanting it resolved and wanting out which is partly why I'm finding it difficult to decide how to proceed.

onlysettleforbutterflies - that's not good - so basically you did end up with a lower stature role as a result of taking mat leave. It really doesn't feel right to me - which is also part of what is making me want to raise a grievance and protest. It just seems wrong that this can keep going on everywhere.

yummumto3girls - male - but I work in a very male-dominated environment so that's not entirely surprising! Perhaps it also goes some way to explaining the situation however as although it's a relatively large company senior women are still quite few and far between so it's not a very tried and tested scenario!

MsSampson Tue 19-Nov-13 08:24:56

An almost identical thing happened to me, to the point it felt like maybe I'd written the post in my sleep? However, I raised a grievance before returning as the role I was offered was a clear demotion (returning to team I used to head up, with approx a quarter of my old responsibility). Also my boss (who only started in company while I was on mat leave) said directly discriminating things to me. I got legal advice, and was told case was pretty clear cut. Work effectively upheld my grievance and I was offered exciting sounding job. Except it's not. It's dull and pointless, and I'm becoming increasingly bitter and miserable, and watching myself be overtaken in terms of promotions by younger and more junior people. Anyway, I suppose my experience is that I got a v short term benefit from grievance (feeling vindicated), but I really regret not just pushing for redundancy and looking elsewhere. I think it depends how you feel in terms of trust and loyalty to company? IMO it's hard to get that back. Good luck whatever you do!

MsSampson Tue 19-Nov-13 08:27:31

Also, I'm pretty sure even after AML they can't keep your maternity cover in your old role without v good reason (eg you're only wanting to do half your own hours etc). I found good legal guidelines on equalities commission website, sorry, can't link from phone.

MsSampson Tue 19-Nov-13 08:28:49

Old hours, not own hours

Tiredemma Tue 19-Nov-13 08:29:36

Im watching with interest as im due to go back at the beginning of March. Lots of 'changes' at work currently and im curious about what these 'changes' mean for my role (management).

Namechangedforawhile Tue 19-Nov-13 08:48:38

MsSampson - thanks for sharing - this is where I'm torn as I could see something similar happening to me in terms of getting offered a role that sounds good on paper but in reality... Part of what is grey in my case is that I didn't protest ref. not getting my old role back - to be fair though that was only because the alternatives sounded interesting - if I'd known they wouldn't materialise then I would have protested which I guess is the part that's in my favour! The trigger for me was basically being told that my situation wasn't a problem - I don't want to be too specific but basically a couple of things happened which made it clear to me that those I work for aren't trying particularly hold to sort my situation out. Thanks for the tip ref. the equalities commission site - this is a good extract:

"If a woman is given a different job on her return to work and this is partly or wholly due to her absence on maternity leave, this will be sex discrimination if the new job is less favourable than her previous job. A less favourable role could be one where, although the new job is technically equivalent to the old one and the job title is the same, her work is less interesting, she has less responsibility, her clients are changed so less commission is payable or she has to complete a new probationary period."

The bit up to the word responsibility describes my situation rather well. Full link for others who are in similar situations:

www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/before-the-equality-act/guidance-for-employers-pre-october-10/guidance-on-managing-new-and-expectant-parents/managing-the-return-from-maternity-leave/managing-the-return-from-maternity-leave/

MsSampson Tue 19-Nov-13 09:51:27

In terms of not objecting when you came back - I think you have 3 months from point of discrimination to put in a claim for discrimination, legally. So, if you can prove that the discrimination only became evident to you at the point at which you allude to above, I don't think the fact that you didn't object at the time should be an issue. Although I have no legal qualifications!
I don't want to mention too many details for obv legal reasons, but if you wanted to PM me I would be happy to share further, or any other legal advice I was offered. Something I feel quite strongly about these days!

atlastimstressfree Tue 19-Nov-13 10:00:38

NC for obvious reasons.

I have just raised a grievance, very similar situation to Ms Sampson. My case was very clear, the company actually admitted they had done things wrong, however they upheld my grievance. The stress was too much, i was off sick for months.

Union were not very strong and local reps hadn't the right experience. I brought in Solicitor who confirmed that i had a very strong case.

It took over 6 months to get to the 3rd stage of the internal grievance, typical behaviour of the company to try and force employees to drop their cases. One morning just over a week ago my little girl woke me up at 5 to get into bed with me, i cried, i didn't want to wake up. Because when i was asleep i was able to forget the whole horrible business. I realised that i couldn't continue and i have accepted a settlement.

Yes i had a very very strong case, but it would take months to get it to the tribunal. There was a very high risk that the cost of the legal fees (i had no trust at all with union, so would have to pay own fees) would be more than what i would achieve.

The cost to my health and family would have been too much.

The union would have been better advising me to sit and file my nails and wait for other opportunities to arise.

Its so unfair, but unfortunately its very common.

Before raising a grievance i would really be sure about what you want to achieve. Companies do not like it when you raise a grievance. Ask yourself is it worth it.

I expected this might happen when i raised my issue, and if i'm honest i'm frightened but also excited about now being able to find something new.

The law is very clear - but it is civil law not criminal law.

yummumto3girls Tue 19-Nov-13 12:29:26

In terms of allegations to do with discrimination it is 3 months from the last incident or the time that you became aware of it.

Atlastimstressfree - what difference does it make if it's not criminal law, it's still the law but upheld in a different type of court, there is also plenty of legal precedents to support a claim.

When making an allegation of discrimination, in this case direct sex discrimination, you have to provide the facts upon which you believe you have been discriminated against (a prima facie case) but once you have done this the burden of proof falls to the employer to prove that they didn't discriminate, this is often very difficult for them to do and therefore often ends up finding in favour of the employee.

As you have said, it depends on where you see your future and whether you want to rock the boat, but unless we challenge this behaviour women will continue to be discriminated against.

yummumto3girls Tue 19-Nov-13 12:32:25

Atlastimstressfree - sorry to hear your story, it is a very stressful process and it sounds like a settlement agreement was the best thing for you, provided you got a fair payment.

Namechangedforawhile Tue 19-Nov-13 13:24:27

Thanks for all the replies. I think what I may do is give my employers a final chance - make it very clear that I am unhappy and remind them of my entitlement to an equivalent status role, and see if this is sufficient for them to resolve. If they then don't take action I will raise a grievance with a view to obtaining some form of settlement agreement and leaving.

Willthisworknow Tue 19-Nov-13 16:51:58

Hi yes it's a common one but where I am, I think the assumption is that due to having a young family, you may not want to have that same responsibility as you once did. I came bac and there was an assumption I didn't want to travel! So I'd enure that's not the case before wading in.

Karaokemamma Wed 20-Nov-13 23:30:05

I returned to work after adoption leave. They kept the person covering my role in post (a man). It's awful being back, it's not working out very well. I am looking for another job which is a shame because I liked my job. :-(

prettybird Fri 22-Nov-13 12:14:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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