Been back at work a week and discover I am now my maternity cover's assistant!

(50 Posts)
AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 12:40:39

So, was told last week, as there have been some changes, that I would be reporting in to the guy who covered my maternity leave (who has since been promoted). Slightly annoyed but thought, hey I'm getting paid, who cares?
Today I come into the office and have been cc'd on an email from him to a regional manager saying "please send future requests to AugustMoon who is now my assistant".
Am I right to be absolutely fucking livid about this? At the very least (if this is allowed, which it can't be surely?) I should have been told about it before my return....?
Advice please.

I'm no expert but I think it depends on how long long you've been on maternity. Less than six months and you have to go back to the same role. Between 6months to a year they have to give you a job back but not the same. I'm pretty sure they must inform you though and I would be livid if i was in your position.

daimbardiva Mon 19-Aug-13 12:46:15

I can see why you're livid, but has your role actually changed - i.e. were you an assistant to the role the guy has taken on before, or have you been demoted?

allmycats Mon 19-Aug-13 12:50:36

So, you have gone back to work in the same position as you left , but the person who covered your maternity leave has been promoted and is now your senior.

Why is this a problem if you have got your old job back, some one has to be your senior, why does it matter who it is, perhaps the guy who covered your maternity leave was really good and deserved the promotion.

K8Middleton Mon 19-Aug-13 12:53:16

Were you given the option to apply for the promotion?

Even if you took longer than 6 months maternity leave you have the right to return to the same job unless there's a good reason not to. Even then any job has to be of equal and equivalent standing ie same salary, hours and other terms, same grading and same status.

I think you need to speak to whoever's his line manager (ie your secondary line manager now) to ask what is going on. I'd mention the phrases "right to return" and "maternity discrimination" to make them sweat a bit.

K8Middleton Mon 19-Aug-13 12:54:25

Also any change to your job should be done with proper consultation.

You are right to want to find out more.

AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 12:56:41

I was never anyone's assistant before. I was assistant x manager (not assistant to the x manager... haha always think of the office)
I've had 2 years maternity leave because I had 2 children very close together, the baby I was pregnant with when i left was stillborn at 35 wks. It is the same as if I had had 2 children and 2 periods of maternity leave, or so I thought. I guess it is a long time to be away which is why I accepted there would be changes.

Bakingnovice Mon 19-Aug-13 12:58:41

K8 is right. This is exactly what happened to me. Went back to find my hand picked replacement had effectively taken my job and I was doing the work of an assistant. It was hard enough going back to work after baby and it took me ages to try and sort it. You need to email hr and me ruin the kind of phrases which will make them sweat 'right to return, discrimination, constructive dismissal' etc.

I ended up being bullied so badly by the bitch doing my job I ended up walking out after 18 months with no self confidence and a mini breakdown. I think she knew i was upset and wanted my (her) job back amd felt threatened. It was one of the worst periods of my life. You have the right to return to YOUR job.

AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 13:01:08

My role has changed a lot. He is basically doing my job still so much of the stuff I used to do is now taken care of and I am now, for example having to print out, collate and distribute the report I used to write. I wasn't happy about it but thought, it's early days, it'll come right.

AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 13:02:54

Baking That sounds horrible, hope things are better for you now. Someone has already suggested that they are trying to make things unpleasant for me so that I just leave.

AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 13:04:34

K8 that's just it, I nearly didn't come back and am pretty sure I wouldn't have if I had known, had been informed I would be in this position.

Ablababla Mon 19-Aug-13 13:10:18

After returning from maternity leave you should be found a job of 'equivalent status' to the one you left. For them not to provide this is potentially discrimatory, but of course the issue is never black and white when it comes to defining jobs. Is there someone sensible in HR you can talk too?

saintmerryweather Mon 19-Aug-13 13:27:23

surely 'equivalent status' means pay and hours, not necessarily job role?

K8Middleton Mon 19-Aug-13 13:33:50

No saintmerry. It means exactly what I wrote. The law is there to protect women being disciminated for taking maternity leave. Taking away her status is discrimination. Just paying the same is not enough to get away with shoddy behaviour.

Imagine how you would feel to go back and be treated like you are no longer competent?

RobotHamster Mon 19-Aug-13 13:36:31

This is wrong, you've effectively been demoted.

K8Middleton Mon 19-Aug-13 13:38:48

If the woman returns after a period of ordinary maternity leave, she has the right to return to the job she occupied before her maternity leave. If she has taken additional maternity leave, she has the right to return to her original job unless this is not reasonably practicable, in which case she has the right to be offered suitable alternative employment on terms no less favourable than the terms she enjoyed in her original job.

From here

Boosiehs Mon 19-Aug-13 13:46:41

One thing to watch for is the time taken a ordinary maternity leave.

I agree that you have the right to return to an equal job if you go back in a year.

It may be that working for two years the mat cover might have proven to be indispensable and they want to keep him.

K8Middleton Mon 19-Aug-13 13:57:14

I don't think there's anything on the statute or in common law that suggest a woman has to return between maternity leaves to ensure protection? Off the top of my head there is some case law related to holiday carry over but that is all I think.

The right to return is the right to return and it doesn't matter how many maternity leaves a woman takes or whether they ran consecutively or not.

I have no sensible advice, just wanted to say how sorry I am for how you are being treated, especially after your first baby was stillborn. Sending you lots of sympathy through the interwebs and hoping work starts to behave soon.

AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 14:10:17

Thank you everyone, this is all very helpful. Thank you blowfish

edam Mon 19-Aug-13 14:16:03

August, this is shocking - are you in a union? (They aren't just for specific sectors or jobs grades and come in very handy if you ever have a dispute.) If not, suggest you contact ACAS who can give you expert advice about the law and how to proceed. Good luck!

Bakingnovice Mon 19-Aug-13 14:17:08

August like you I kept thinking things would settle down. I kept being told I was being paranoid and to enjoy the same pay for the demoted work. Hr just said 'you're on a good salary, and wouldn't you rather not have the stress of all that work?!' Everyone including hr, my replacement, my line manager made things really unpleasant. The demotion made me feel shit and bored.

My replacement made me feel like I was threatening her role in the team when all I wanted was my work back. It got to a stage where she decided she needed to check all my letters before they were sent out - mending 12 years qualified! Still it was all done under the guise of 'we are all helping you to settle back in'. Do not take it. Get things in writing. Speak to a lawyer. Get your info correct.

In retrospect its the best thing that happened to me. I walked out, handed my notice in, stayed home for 2 years putting myself back together and in sept I'm off to Uni to career change! Sorry to go on about my situation. There was a v famous case last year where a woman won her case at the tribunal under similar circumstances. She was outed by her replacement. Look into it and store it for use further down the line.

PurplePidjin Mon 19-Aug-13 14:17:18

Are you officially his assistant or is he just a patronising tosser throwing his weight around? Just because he says you're his assistant doesn't mean you really are, get this queried - go in all passive aggressive innocent to his line manager "Mr X seems to have got confused, he thinks I'm an assistant <tinkly laugh> perhaps you could have a quiet word, i wouldn't like to embarass him"

K8Middleton Mon 19-Aug-13 14:33:07

Don't start chucking money at lawyers yet. Start by finding out the facts, then proceeds via the internal grievance process and then if no joy think about speaking to an employment lawyer.

AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 14:43:28

Edam, no not in a union... Not sure if there is one for this sector.
I have no issue with the fact my cover was promoted, he clearly does a good job and if he has proven himself then of course he deserves a promotion. It wasnt advertised afaik and, probably worth noting, he hasnt been promoted to the equivalent role/status as my previous line mgr. The issue I have is that I left an assistant manager and have returned to a role as his assistant. I was never referred to as anyone's assistant before, it feels demeaning. He is 5 years younger than me too ffs!

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