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Help! Meeting with HR Tomorrow

(31 Posts)
FifiForgot Mon 29-Nov-10 17:47:10

I am currently on maternity leave and I am due back at work in January.

Some time ago (back in the summer) I had a phone call from my line manager who informed me "off the record" that she had been off sick for a significant period of time and while she had been absent, it had been decided that my role really needed to be full time. I have now been called to a meeting with HR tomorrow to be formally told.

To give a bit of background, I returned to work full time after the birth of my first child and requested a reduction in hours. After a year of trying, I was finally allowed to drop to 4 days per week, but only by accepting a demotion by 2 grades and someone was brought in above me.

There is no way that I can work full time, it nearly caused me to have a breakdown last time and that was with just one child! DD is now in school so that makes things all the more complicated.

I know that I am not entitled to return to the same job after a year off, but there has never been any suggestion that I would go anywhere else. I have worked in the same role for 10 years, for the same boss and everyone is just assuming that I'll be back.

My question is by making my role full time, does this mean that they are significantly changing my T&C? Can they make me redundant or will me saying "no I can't/won't work fulltime" mean that I am effectively saying I'm not coming back to work.

I'm getting myself into a bit of a state about the whole returning to work thing anyway and this is just making it worse.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

hairyfairylights Mon 29-Nov-10 19:51:21

Although they should consult with you first, sadly they can change T&Cs and they should give you contractual notice that they are doing so.

They can only make the post redundant if the work is no longer needed.

So if they are adamant that it can't be done part time, they will enforce full time with contractual notice. It will then be up to you whether to resign or not, I guess.

And the maternity leave rule is irrelevant here, as you say, as you have taken more than the 26 weeks.

Sorry if this is not what you wanted to hear.

FifiForgot Mon 29-Nov-10 19:59:16

Thanks hairyfairylights. Are they obliged to offer me suitable alternative employment, or consider a job share in this situation? To be honest, even if they are, going on past experience, I have a feeling they will find a way to wiggle out of it!

hairyfairylights Mon 29-Nov-10 20:04:09

I don't think they are obliged to do anything, sorry Fifi as you have taken extended maternity leave.

If it were a redundancy situation (which it doesn't sound like) perhaps it would be different.

Bascially an employer can impose changes in T&C's afaik, although they should consult, they can make the cae that it's best for the business.

FifiForgot Mon 29-Nov-10 20:08:35

Basically, I'm stuffed then! There is no way I can work full time, no childcare for one thing. I'll have to see if they will let me go back 4 days a week for the 3 months to cover my maternity payment and then leave. Bread line here we come!

hairyfairylights Mon 29-Nov-10 20:33:46

Might be worth checking back to the thread to see if there is anyone that knows better than me, though.

Good Luck.

hermioneweasley Mon 29-Nov-10 20:34:00

firstly, you don't know for sure what they are going to say, so don't worry until you know the situation.

If it is as you described, you are entitled to return to the same job on the same Ts&Cs as before, unless there has been a reorganisation and your job no longer exists.

if they are saying that while you have been off the nature of the work has changed and it now needs someone full time, then it is a potential redundancy situation. they should consult with you about the what is different now and what your preference would be - for example, would you be prepared to job share?

Come back and let us know what happens and let's take it from there.

hairyfairylights Mon 29-Nov-10 20:37:11

DWP www has some good info nts/WorkAndFamilies/Pregnancyandmaternityrights/DG _065153

StealthPolarBear Mon 29-Nov-10 20:37:24

What sort of work do you do? Is there another tack you could take - offer a compromise? So if you currently work 3 days could you offer to do 4, with one from home and flexible hours on the others? Negotiate?
Might be completely irrelevant sorry, just thought it was worth a mention

hairyfairylights Mon 29-Nov-10 20:39:29

This section from link is relevant

" However, if your employer shows it is not reasonably practical to return to your original job (eg because the job no longer exists) you do not have the same right. In that case, you must be offered alternative work with terms and conditions as if you hadn’t been away."

I just wanted to point out that if they can decide it's not reasonably practical to have the OP return to her current T&C's.

the good news, OP, is it looks like they must offer you alternate work with the same T&CS!!

Apologies, I think I had this slightly wrong.

FifiForgot Mon 29-Nov-10 21:21:51

Thanks for all the advice/help. With a bit of luck I might be able to negotiate something. My line manager is supportive of a job share but my boss isn't. We'll see who wins that one!

I might be back for more advice tomorrow - I'll let you know.

flowerybeanbag Tue 30-Nov-10 08:58:00

Yes if it's not practical to offer exactly the same job you must be offered alternative work on the same or no less favourable t&cs, but that doesn't mean your employer is obliged to create a post to meet those requirements where there isn't one.

If the original job no longer exists and there isn't anything else, then that would be a redundancy situation.

If you currently do 4 days a week that's nearly full time anyway so hopefully it will be fine. I don't understand your line manager's role in this though. You say she is supportive of a job share but your 'boss' isn't? Do you mean your line manager's boss? In which case your line manager should certainly have at least some say in the work of her direct reports and should be able to support you.

PinkElephantsOnParade Tue 30-Nov-10 09:01:26

I thought you were entitled to return a job with the same terms and conditions even after extended mat leave?

Offering a full time job to someone who previously worked 4 days a week is not the same T&C.

If the job has to be changed into full time that is a redundancy situation isn't it as the previous part time job no longer exists?

Hairy - if you are a HR specialist and you know for certain that I am wrong then I am certainly prepared to be corrected. I just always thought that once flexible working had been granted it could not just be taken away like this.

PinkElephantsOnParade Tue 30-Nov-10 09:03:27

Ah, Flowery has cross posted with me!

It seems I was right in that there is a possible redundancy situation here?

Though as OP is already doing 4 days a week I would also have thought she couls come to some sort of acceptable arrangement with her work (perhaps some working at home?)

FifiForgot Tue 30-Nov-10 09:09:31

Flowerybeanbag it is a very odd suitation. I used to work directly to my boss (the CEO) but when I asked for a reduction in hours the response was to demote me by 2 pay grades and bring someone in over me to "manage the office". In reality my line manager has all the rubbish and no power. She is supportive of a job share, but my boss isn't, therefore it won't happen.

The issue, apparently, is the 1 day a week that I am not there. My boss has decided that the situation can't continue and my role HAS to be full time. I have been battling against her for the last 5 years since my 1st maternity leave and I am just so tired of it all. Part of me is really hoping that they make me redundant, even though the package will be rubbish!

PinkElephantsOnParade Tue 30-Nov-10 10:20:50

Fifi - as I understand it, if they make your job full time then you will be in a redundancy situation.

It would not be the same job anymore due to the change in hours.

flowerybeanbag Tue 30-Nov-10 10:35:08

It could be a redundancy situation.

In general terms if an employees job no longer exists and there is no suitable alternative the employer isn't obliged to create one.

However in this case the job does still exist but the employer wants to change the terms, so it's not that clear cut.

The employer could do it as redundancy, so a diminished requirement for a part time position, and a new requirement for a full time position.

But as it's an increase, the workload not having diminished at all, they could and may well just do it as a change to terms and conditions and try to force it through. If you refuse to agree to the change they could terminate your employment then offer you the job on the new terms and you could refuse it then claim unfair dismissal. You could also see if you can claim redundancy on the grounds that your original post no longer exists.

It's a bit complicated. I think the fact that it's not much of a change could go against it being a redundancy situation. If you only worked 2 days a week and they wanted a full time post, that's quite a drastic change and I think it would be easier to argue that that should be handled as a redundancy situation. If you work, say, 30 hours a week at the moment and they want to increase it to 37, or whatever, that might make it more difficult.

There's a lot of ifs and buts though at the moment. Come back when you have more solid information.

PinkElephantsOnParade Tue 30-Nov-10 11:01:56

I would think the best bet here would be for OP to sit down with management and work out a flexible solution that works for everyone.

Much better than potentially getting into a battle over possible unfair dismissal.

flowerybeanbag Tue 30-Nov-10 12:45:07


FifiForgot Tue 30-Nov-10 16:38:04

Thank you for all your comments and advice. I have been to a meeting with HR this morning.

Consultation of the change to T&C began today and will finish next week. Its fairly cut and dried, the other person in the same situation "welcomes this change" which is a change to what she has been saying since this was first suggested. She is obviously quite happy with the proposed change which is fine but then her situation is very different to mine.

HR have basically said that they won't make me redundant as they are changing T&C not the job (30 hours to 37.5 hours per week) and will look for alternative employment for me but "there won't necessarily be anything suitable" which is fair enough I suppose. I suggested the idea of a job share (50/50 split) and they said that they will consider it but I'm fairly certain that my boss won't go for it. I really don't see what other flexible alternatives I can suggest. Working from home is not possible and the other person covering a day a week is what caused this mess in the first place!

If the job share is a non-starter, I'm hoping that they will let me off returning for 3 months and paying back my maternity pay so that they can keep the temp that has been covering my position while recruiting a new member of staff. Although I have to say I feel like going back and then taking all my accrued leave to cover my notice period!

DH is very cross about the whole thing and is muttering about lawyers and unfair/constructive dismissal. The whole process has been going on for months (I was told informally in the summer, today was the first formal communication I have had) and it has really unsettled me. I am a bit annoyed that they have waited until 3 weeks before Christmas to actually do anything.

Patch66 Fri 03-Dec-10 21:13:32

I expect this is something you have already rejected but I wonder if it would work for you to do 30 hours but over 5 days. If you started at 9 you could finish as early as 3.30 if you just took a half hour lunch break.

This might answer your your boss' need for you to be there every day and may help you?

FifiForgot Sun 19-Dec-10 15:10:05

Help - again!

I've now had a letter from HR (it arrived on Friday, nearly 2 weeks after the meeting) and basically, it was as I feared, full time or nothing.

They say they have considered a job share, but it wouldn't work because of a need for continuity, I feel this a bit of a weak reason, but hey. They have offered me 12 weeks pay in lieu of notice, plus payment for any holiday owing if I resign and have also said that there is a job on similar hours to what I was doing before I went on maternity leave. However, I have to apply for it and if I am successful various conditions will be carried over.

Am I right in thinking that if I want to go back, they have to offer me a job on the same T&C as before. I know they don't have to create a role for me, but surely, if there is a job being advertised, I should be offered first refusal? The closing date is next week, which is a bit short notice. To be honest, I am cross that this process has taken 4 months, meaning that I have missed out on several other jobs that have come up and, perhaps more importantly, I am now in the position of needing to look for another job as a matter of urgency but will have to let my childcare place go, there is no way we can afford to pay £600 per month while I look.

I am taking legal advice, but can't get an appointment for a few days. From the tone of the letter, they would really like me to go quietly but I just wanted to check what they are supposed to be doing.

FunkySnowSkeleton Sun 19-Dec-10 15:22:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FifiForgot Mon 20-Dec-10 16:25:59

Thanks for that link.

If I am reading it right, they have to offer me the role suggested, I don't have to apply - is that right?

HR are being very off hand and presenting things as "a done deal" and I find it very hard to stand up for myself, I need someone else to confirm what I think!

Many thanks


hermioneweasley Mon 20-Dec-10 21:03:59

from what you've said, it sounds like your old role is being made redundant, and therefore if you are on maternity leave then you should get priority for suitable alternative roles.

Alternatively, you can let this happen and then sue for sex discrimination which would probably give you a financial cushion for a while. depends on how much you want to be working for that company.

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