Q and A with Which? Legal Service

(46 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-May-10 11:02:54

Want to know more about your employment rights?

Are you are currently on maternity leave and want to better understand your rights? Or are you worried about redundancy? Or perhaps you?re working full-time and want to know if you have the right to ask to work part-time? Which? Legal Service could help.

Which? Legal Service offers unbiased expert legal advice from our team of qualified lawyers and employment advisors. Because they are part of Which?, they take no advertising or sponsorship and are completely independent, not for profit and a registered charity. Their profits go directly into our campaigning work to help fight for consumer rights.

Which? team of lawyers are on hand to answer your employment legal queries.
Post your comments and questions here by Wednesday 24th May and they will do their best to answer as many questions as possible.

FutureMum Mon 17-May-10 11:24:30


I am currently pregnant and at risk of redundancy within 2 months (as part of restructure). Desperately trying to compete for internal roles. My questions are:
What rights have I got if I am unsuccessful and made redundant this summer? (currently pregnant but not on maternity leave). I would qualify to take mat leave before my redundancy comes into effect - I have heard of the Maternity & Paternity etc regulations, which my employer seems to be ignoring with other colleagues. Is this legal? Would I gain any extra rights re: being offered alternative suitable vacancies if I was to go on mat leave before the date my redundancy comes into effect?
Thank you, keep up the good work.

Sonnet Mon 17-May-10 11:55:35

I currently work 4 days per week and have done for 8 years now. I am under pressure from my boss/the company to incresse to 5 days. This is not due to an increase in work as I curently do not have enough to do to fill 4.

Do they have to get my agreement to increase to 4?, can they force it ie take it or leave it or could I argue that my current role is "redundant"
Thanks you!

doihavetopayitback Mon 17-May-10 14:36:40

Previously posted this in employment and had some replies. Would like more information about the recovery process and when (if at all) this debt will become statue barred.
My current circumstances are that I am being supported by my new partner and am soon to become a student for 3 years. Therefore there is no money spare to make any repayments.

Due to a huge mistake by my previous line manager I was overpaid nearly £1000 by my employer last year.

She rang to tell me after an audit picked it up and I said I hadnt received payslip so hadnt had a chance to look at breakdown but was surprised at amount of pay.

My housing benefit was stopped because of the pay and I had to fight and undergo alot of stress to get a letter from HR detailing what I should have been paid. Eventually 3 months later my HB was paid but I nearly lost my home because of her mistake.

I have not received anything offical from my employer regarding paying it back and I verbally asked them to write it off and I would be in hardship to pay it back. Plus due to all the stress and upset I felt they should also consider writing it off. I had to make phone calls every other day to either my line manger, her line manager, HR or housing benefits. I may as well have been off sick and recieving sick pay as it had a terrible effect on my health.

I am now on an unpaid career break from work and HR have said verbally they would ask for it to be paid back when I return/or resign (which is about 3yrs away minimum and I could extend this to 5 years and I am very tempted to do so) They would look at hardship when they request repayment. However my circumstance now are hardship and if they considered it now I think they would have to allow it...I think they are delaying so they are in a stronger position.

My question is what rights do I have? The only letter I have received is one detailing what I was paid in error and what I should have received. I think it says they will contact me shortly regarding repayment....and that was 7mths ago.

When I receive my P60 I expect the gross pay will include the overpaid amount. I have had to give Tax credits the amount shown on month 12 payslip (which includes the overpayment)

doihavetopayitback Mon 17-May-10 14:40:37

BTW the letter I received detailing amounts of OP etc was at my insistance as I needed it for housing benefit

Attenborough Mon 17-May-10 16:24:28

It looks as though my job may be transferred to another company under TUPE at the end of the year. I know that I'm entitled to everything that's in my contract of employment, apart from pension rights, but what about policies which aren't specifically included in the contract, like maternity? Would a new company be required to uphold the old company's maternity benefits, even if I'm not pregnant at the time of the transfer?

Jcee Mon 17-May-10 17:11:17


I'm currently on maternity leave due to return to work in December.

My employer has just announced that they are relocating most (but not all) of my team to another office which is 50 miles away.

It is unclear which posts will remain in our current office and which will be moved to the new location but my employer has stressed it will only be a handful of posts which stay at the current office and so most people should expect to move.

I'm unclear of my rights with regard to my return to work and location. Also if I don't want to move to the new location, when does a relocation become grounds for redundancy?

Thanks in advance

BigBadMummy Mon 17-May-10 19:17:10

I run a company where all the people who complete tasks for me are self employed.

I send them the job request, they complete the task and then invoice me, and I pay them.

I suspect that for some of those self employed people I am their only source of income (ie they do not look for work elsewhere). This concerns me.

Should I be worried? And insist they find additional work elsewhere or will the Revenue assume I am trying to avoid employing them.

Which I am not!

sillysow Mon 17-May-10 21:52:00

I am currently on Maternity Leave for a full 52 weeks. The last 3 months are unpaid in respect of SMP and company Maternity Pay.

Is there anything to stop me doing a small amount of casual work in order to get by, so long as it is taxed in the usual way?

CaptainNancy Tue 18-May-10 13:50:54

I am v interested in legal position re overpayments too. I have chased with HR many times now, so has my manager. They haven't sorted it out. Its gone into a new tax year, so my tax will be paid wrong on it etc etc.
Can I keep it after a certain period? My manager has left now too... no new one appointed, and may not be due to public sector staffing freeze.

LeninGrad Tue 18-May-10 14:20:26

Are employers under any obligation to consider allowing you to work flexible hours or not require you to work abroad for instance if you're breastfeeding?

pixiestix Tue 18-May-10 14:26:53


I'm going on Maternity leave in the autumn, and I am entitled to 22 weeks full pay, then 17 weeks SMP. My boss has told me that I will only qualify for holiday pay/leave for the 17 weeks SMP, not for the 22 weeks before that. Our holiday year runs from Jan-Dec, and we get 28 days. I will have used 20 of these by the time my leave starts, and will lose the 8 others, according to my boss.
Does this sound right?

Its only a small company, (and she is in charge of all the HR stuff) so she has told me that there is no maternity policy to view, and that I will get all the information I need at 25 weeks when I hand in my MATB1. So I have nothing in writing to either back up or contradict what she says.

Thank you very much for any advice you can give!

sianimac Wed 19-May-10 07:40:00

I work shifts. My boss often pressures us to change shifts at very short notice. Legally how much notice do employers need to give if they insist that employees must shift swap?
How far in advance should a rota be recieved?

flowerybeanbag Wed 19-May-10 09:30:12

<<sits on hands>>


UserNameAngst Wed 19-May-10 09:46:55

Does my company have to give me the 7 bank holidays that were during my ordinary maternity leave?My contract gives me 24 days and bank holidays are counted separately. Thanks for an advice!

kittya Wed 19-May-10 23:49:49

My aunt is a carer in the community and due to retire in two years. She has a new boss. Early last year she was accused of stealing a statue from an elderly client and was suspended pending investigations, the statue was then found in the old ladies house and my aunt received a full written apology. Now, someone has accused her of swearing at a client (she doesnt even swear in RL) and been rude, the old lady cant remember which carer it was but said she had blonde hair (my aunt has blondish hair, as do alot of people) her new boss has taken it upon herself to say that it was my aunt and has officially recorded this. It is very upsetting and stressful, as you can imagine. The boss got her in the office and said "thats two incidents on your record now, one more and you are out" this is after 25 years of impeccable service? what should my aunt do? she works for the council. She has been trying to get intouch with her union rep for two weeks and he has never rang her back. She is really suffering and fragile. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

angelaspangela Thu 20-May-10 11:06:18

I was made redundant at Christmas and have been doing freelance consultancy since then. I want to get pregnant. How does maternity allowance for self-employed people work? What period do they use to calculate the allowance?

RibenaBerry Thu 20-May-10 11:20:54

<<Also sits on hands. Itching to type>>

flowerybeanbag Thu 20-May-10 11:36:57

gringrin Ribena

v frustrating!

<< hello Ribena hello flowery>>

flowerybeanbag Thu 20-May-10 13:11:24

Hi ilove

RibenaBerry Thu 20-May-10 13:43:31


LeninGrad Thu 20-May-10 19:10:59

Hello HR types, would be good to get Which's take on the whole suitable alternative vacancy thing if someone could frame the question.

coveredinsnot Thu 20-May-10 21:10:15

If I am undergoing medical tests (e.g. with a cardiologist) am I obliged to tell my employer about this, even before test results come through? And once they do come through, am I obliged to tell them about the results as well?
Thanks so much.

ceeebeee Thu 20-May-10 21:50:49

A colleague and I, both on maternity leave, have been made redundant. I am convinced that we were targeted specifically, though of course the company deny this. When I asked to see my scores, I realised, firstly, that there were some selection criteria that the employee rep (>20 jobs went in company in total) had not made me aware of, and secondly, that there were selection criteria such as current need/business need. I scored really low on this - obviously wasn't working on any projects while on maternity leave, so my manager had to give me a score based on whether they felt the business needed me. I can't see how this is an objective criterion - is this fair?

They also had been deducting my childcare vouchers from my SMP - I queried this before my redundancy and it was only after I appealed my redundancy and added this to the appeal that they've agreed to refund this money, though they're saying that I'm at fault because I still wanted childcare vouchers while on maternity leave. Is this true? They're also wanting to tax this money - if this is a childcare voucher payment surely it isn't meant to be taxed?

cymrumam Fri 21-May-10 12:02:40

I am employed on a full time contract from tuesday to saturday - so hence it is very rare that my working week falls on a bank holiday. I queried this a couple of years ago as my colleague works mon to friday and had the same holiday entitlement obviously got all the bank holidays off and they upped my holiday entitlement from 20 to 24 days as a result.

My original contract states
"You will be entitled to 20 days holiday per annum "

"You are entitled to all recognised public holidays in England and Wales.

Such holidays shall be granted with full pay"

Should I therefore now be entitled to 28 days plus bank holidays ? Or is it as I get now 24 days plus relevant bank holidays when they fall on a working day?

LeninGrad Fri 21-May-10 15:01:51

Regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 says that if a woman is on maternity leave and her position becomes redundant she must be offered any suitable alternative available.

Do you take this to mean that she does not have to go into a pool from which redundancies are selected? Neither does she have to participate in any restructured post interviews etc? Has this ever been tested in the courts?

purepurple Sat 22-May-10 08:04:09

If I work overtime can my employer insist that I get time back instead of extra pay?
I work in a day nursery with around 20 members of staff. The manager insists that we all have to attend staff meetings after work and open days and fun days on a weekend.The hours are then added up and we can take time off. Except, because the manager has to maintain ratios it is very difficult to actually take the time that is owing (and I am not convinced that the tally kept is accurate). Can I ask for the extra hours as pay instead?

justamoment Sat 22-May-10 08:54:15

Hi, I want to employ my currently unemployed sister (who herself is a parent) as my part-time nanny. Please can you advise me on tax responsibilities etc - is it correct that she cannot be self-employed as a nanny, as I have read on some websites?

Thanks for any advice.

MillieMummy Sat 22-May-10 13:39:13


Have found out recently that I am at risk of redundancy. My post is going to be cut as the loss of it is seen as not a big risk to the organisation. The reason it is not going to be a risk is that some parts of my work - including what is defined as my primary job function on my JD - have been given to two new posts which were created about 12 months ago.

At the time the new posts were created I asked a few questions, although not formally, and I was given vague, verbal re-assurance that my role was still clear. In hind-sight I would have asked for written confirmation of the affect of the new posts on my future position in the organisation, but hind-sight is a wonderful thing.

Where do I stand; is it too late to do anything? The two new posts are filled by women so not sexual discrimination. I have worked for the organisation for 15 years and have a perfect employment record.

Thanks - have been wondering who to get advice from.

flowerybeanbag Sat 22-May-10 13:56:36


I think I need to hide this thread it's frustrating me too much!

[needs to get a life emoticon]

angrybird Sat 22-May-10 19:39:00

My employer has adopted the policy that if anyone wants to reduce their hours from full time to part time they must drop down to a half post (17.5 hours per week). There is no flexibility around this. Also, the other half of the post is gone once someone takes it up. We are not able able to reduce hours for a period of time, then resume full time later on.

This is a change of policy from them and I wonder whether they are safe legally to do this. Any advice would be much appreciated.

aarghhelp Mon 24-May-10 09:27:04

Is`that Weds 26th May or Mon 24th May?

ceeebeee Mon 24-May-10 10:04:05

During the consultation period of my redundancy I was advised by ACAS to lodge a formal grievance about me not having a meaningful consultation (questions were not answered until the last possible moment so that I couldn't actually ask any further questions on the answers given) - taking care to label all correspondence as such- so that they would meaningfully consult with me before my redundancy was made final. I received a reply saying that they were not going to accept it as a grievance and instead would accept it as an appeal (even though the redundancy was not yet final). They also said that I was not allowed to use any of the issues I'd raised as grounds for a further appeal. When I questioned the fairness of this, they said that they'd done this after taking legal counsel.

Are they allowed to take away my right to appeal before the redundancy is final?

chocolateme Wed 26-May-10 13:00:05

I think Flowery & Ribena are just fab!!! gringrin

RibenaBerry Wed 26-May-10 13:39:50


FutureMum Wed 26-May-10 15:03:09

Does anybody know when we are getting the answers? Or has this been postponed?

onadietcokebreak Thu 27-May-10 14:23:16

Mumsnet HQ? any info on when replies are expected?

purepurple Thu 27-May-10 18:25:57

What's happening with the answers?

DancingHippoOnAcid Tue 01-Jun-10 19:05:14

Well, that all turned out to be a bit of a let down.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Jun-10 14:08:52

Sorry for delay in getting back to those of you who were chasing the answers. The team have now answered your questions and you can see them on the archive page Many thanks to all who sent in their questions.

LeninGrad Wed 02-Jun-10 19:22:44

Impressed with the answer to my question, thank you, will look through the rest.


swanseajacks Tue 08-Jun-10 14:16:18

My company is going through a restructure. One job out of our immediate team has disappeared. My position is the one they have elected to make redundant. I have been offered an alternative role but management insist I have to be in office 100% of time when my contract allows me to work some of the time from home so I can meet my childcare commitments. Do I have to accept? What happens if I turn it down? To make things more complicated, one of my colleagues has elected to retire, leaving a position still vacant in my immediate team. Should they offer this role to me considering it is more suitable to me in terms of hours? I suspect management will insist that this role too will now need to be performed 100% from office because they have been difficult about my flexible working since I returned from mat leave in March. They told me my old role had changed (which it hasn't) and could no longer support my flex working and moved me to this new role (which has now been made redundant) citing that this could support my flexi working. I suspect all along they want to abolish my flexible working. Can they do this?

RibenaBerry Tue 08-Jun-10 14:25:48

Swansea, this has closed now. I suggest you start a separate thread...

Herecomestheninkynonk Fri 28-Jan-11 08:36:55

The company I work for have refused my application to return to work part time following maternity leave.

Another mum in the same position as me worked part time until her children were at school. Work have advised me the role has now changed and this is no longer appropriate. (I would argue the role hasn't changed significantly).

My son is disabled. Does this allow me any extra rights? Could this be disability discrimination?

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