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To think work should not be hassling me on maternity leave?

(24 Posts)
Lambzig Thu 18-Apr-13 13:56:45

My line manager left just after I went on maternity leave and I don't know my new line manager very well yet.

I am six months into my maternity leave and plan to go back sept when I hope to get a nursery place. I have told work this.

My line manager keeps calling me asking if I have an exact date yet. I keep telling him I will know soon ( my nursery works on three months notice and i am likely to get a school leavers place) and will let him know as soon as I do. He is now saying he needs a date by the end of the week and although he hasn't said clearly, I think there I a veiled threat about losing my job. I have stated to him that our maternity policy says we have to let work know 8 weeks before returning, but I will try and do it before then, but he is not backing off despite me being quite assertive back on this.

Not that it should matter, but I am quite senior at director level. It is a FTSE 350 company, so should I talk to HR (don't want to be a troublemaker), tell him to back off myself and risk a bad start to our working relationship or give him a date and then change it as needed? So depressing.

sparechange Thu 18-Apr-13 14:13:41

Email him, copying in the last person you dealt with in HR (Presumably someone handles maternity leave arrangements?) saying 'Thanks for calling earlier. As discussed, the nursery hasn't given me an exact date yet and I don't envisage they will be able to do so before XX date, as they operate on a 3-month notice period.

However, please accept my assurances that I will notify you of my intended start date as soon as I possibly can, and definitely within the 8-week notice period required by company policy'

When you say there is a threat of you losing your job, do you mean they aren't going to hold your exact previous job open (which they don't have to do after 6 months) or they will try and remove you from the company altogether?

mrsmalcolmreynolds Thu 18-Apr-13 14:16:10

YANBU! I would raise it with HR in a low key way - perhaps a phone call first and ideally to someone you know and think is sensible. You could frame it in a "I just wanted to make you aware of this but don't want to make a huge issue of it" sort of way.

If your HR dept are any good they will be aghast at him doing this and grateful for the heads-up before he gets the company into any hot water.

In case they are not that good grin I would also prep a more formal email and make a log (if you haven't already) of the times, dates and content of these calls. If you haven't done one so far, try to look back at your calls received on the mobile and construct a record now so far as useful, and definitely do it going forward too. Make it clear though what is a reconstruction and what is contemporaneous.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 18-Apr-13 14:17:32

8 weeks is law, I believe, not just company policy.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Thu 18-Apr-13 14:18:30

I would write to him, cc HR, with a copy of the company's policy and the bit about the 8 weeks highlighted and say that in accordance with policy, you will communicate your intended start date with 8 weeks notice. Furthermore, you would like formal written clarification of what he meant when he said "(quote him here)", taking into consideration that you have X amount of time remaining in theory and policy requires 8 weeks notice, so if you were to take the full entitlement of X, you would be notifying them by X date.
And ask him to explain why he is insisting on a date by the end of the week, when there is no requirement for you to provide a date to that timescale.

Honestly, I would be giving him the very clear message right from the start to not fuck with me.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 18-Apr-13 14:19:58

I think also your work should assume you are taking 12 months until you notify them (with 8 weeks notice of your return date).

You could email HR, copying him, asking them to clarify the required notice period?;

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 18-Apr-13 14:22:38

Btw, I'm quite surprised that your nursery is waiting re school leavers, as the ratios are different for different ages.

Lambzig Thu 18-Apr-13 14:22:50

Spare, what he said was "if I don't have a date this week I am not sure there will be anything to come back to". This is completely unreasonable as we are a professional services company and I generate my own work and income. The company, and indeed my team, will be there. I think he is just being controlling.

I don't know anyone in HR as we got taken over two months before I left and made our previous HR team redundant. Therefore, I would have to call up complete strangers and it just feels like I might be seen as a troublemaker.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Thu 18-Apr-13 14:24:39

You certainly need to quote that and ask for clarification.

Quote the law too!

Screw 'troublemaker'. Feeling like you've got to be Nice gets you walked all over. There is nothing at all troublemakerish about insisting someone justifies their position.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 18-Apr-13 14:26:22


The new HR team will know the law and will not want it broken, regardless of them knowing you or not.

formicaqueen Thu 18-Apr-13 14:26:50

"if I don't have a date this week I am not sure there will be anything to come back to"

Report this to HR and ask for some direction as you feel you are being threatened with loosing your job if you do not comply. Remind them about the 8 week law.

Lambzig Thu 18-Apr-13 14:28:27

Oh the nursery always has a really small babies class, so they move staff around from class to class. They did this with my DD, offering the days I wanted starting mid sept. ASFAIK, I am pretty high on their internal wait list for a sept place.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 18-Apr-13 14:29:10

Can someone in your team suggest a good person from the new HR team so you feel a bit more comfortable?

jacks365 Thu 18-Apr-13 14:29:42

You only need to give the 8 weeks notice if you are returning earlier than the full 52 weeks so you are perfectly within your rights to state you will be returning on such and such a date unless you notify them otherwise, ie reiterating the legal position. I would make a complaint to hr as well though.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 18-Apr-13 14:38:42

Agree with everything imtoohecsy says. You are absolutely not a trouble maker and he has no right to demand answers of you at this stage. Such a large company's HR department will know this only too well.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Thu 18-Apr-13 14:39:52

Also, are you part of a union? The veiled threat should definitely be reported to them.

Icelollycraving Thu 18-Apr-13 14:40:29

He is not acting professionally. There are very clear guidelines as others have stated. Are you going to request flexible working & would he be able to have the final decision? If so,report it in a very pa way. If not,make sure he knows not to fuck with you. Good luck!

Mamafratelli Thu 18-Apr-13 14:47:41

I'd give him a late sep date. You are likely to get early sep at nursery so there shouldn't be a problem. He's a dick.

Lambzig Thu 18-Apr-13 15:02:01

It doesn't bode we'll for my working life when I return does it? Sigh!

I already have a three days a week role since my return from maternity leave and plan to go back to the same so that shouldn't be an issue.

I think I will get the name of a HR person from someone else and give them a call for an off the record chat. That will give me an idea of whether the new HR person is professional and can help (In my experience, working for a largish company doesn't always guarantee a good HR team - I have worked for a company with 1000's of staff where the HR person was also the FDs PA). Will suggest an email cc'd to them.

oscarwilde Thu 18-Apr-13 15:13:20

What every one else has said. Respond very calmly and professionally and make sure that HR know about it. Do not make the mistake of thinking that trying to keep this guy sweet will help you in any way when you return to work. He's already being a dick. Make sure you send "don't fxxk with me" signals now or you will have a nightmare when you return.
Giving him a heads up as to when you plan to return in general is a nice thing to do but you have no further obligations to him. The only reason "by the end of the week" might be an issue is if your maternity cover needs to be extended by X period and is playing hard ball. Again the company has to assume that you will take the full 12 months off.

At best give them a conservative hard date and state that you may be available a few weeks earlier but they should plan on X. Plus it is worth checking if HR will insist that you use up annual leave before your return.

I came under similar pressure from a new line manager and bust a gut to get back to meet his timescales. My 6 mo decided that was the point to become a bottle refusnik and I had to fly long haul as soon as I got back. STRESSSSSS ! It did me no favours at all, I was still on a redundancy list within the year and looking back, I should have involved HR from the start and made sure I had a file and record of all the crap I received. Would have made my exit much wealthier grin
My top tip.

Lambzig Thu 18-Apr-13 15:16:26

Oscar, that is definitely a cautionary tale. Hmmm, perhaps in writing is best.

EuroShaggleton Thu 18-Apr-13 15:23:15

I agree with oscar's advice. Everything in writing is definitely sensible.

BTW, I suspect (based on your description of a professional services firm that has been taken over) that I do a fair bit of work with some of your colleagues!

TravelHappy Thu 18-Apr-13 15:25:10

I fully agree with everyone who is encouraging you to document all your calls and write things down. Not only does it produce a record in case things go bad down the line, it would give both you and your manager time to choose your words carefully and so problems will show up in black and white with little room for misunderstanding. In your position I would make full use of "staying in touch days" as well. If you can get a days or half a days childcare it would be really valuable to be able to get back into the office from time to time, renew contacts and show that you mean to come back fighting! Best of luck with it.

Rootvegetables Thu 18-Apr-13 15:28:55

Can you call ACAS they really helped me with a dispute I was having on maternity leave. They knew every law etc and helped me get all the info. Good luck

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