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Reduction in hours following ML

(30 Posts)
weakestlink Tue 27-Sep-11 13:56:57

I went into work today to discuss which days I would be working when I come back in January.

I said I'd be happy with the same pattern as before I left of 3 days / week.

Was told there would only be 2 days for me as they have taken on someone new (to cover me) and increased someone else's hours.

I work as a receptionist in a team of 4 part timers so the role is not/cannot be made redundant as it's fairy essential!

Surely they should have only taken one someone short-term to cover me and it should be them cutting their hours not me? Whilst I am pretty sure they didnt expect me to return at all, in all my correspondance I have maintained that I will be returning in January (after 52 weeks ML).

2 days will mean only 12 hours instead of 18 which would mean I would not qualify for any help with childcare from tax credits so I would be forced to resign as I do not earn enough (£6.50/hr) to cover childcare for 2. I will also lose the deposit of £150 for DS's nursery place if I don't use it sad

What can I do?!

Uglymush Tue 27-Sep-11 14:03:43

I am an HR manager. You have a legal right to return to your job as it was when you left it. Unless they needed to make redundancies during the time you were away, then you can be put at risk the same as everyone else (Which it doesn't sound like they have).

The direct Gov website has really useful information for working parents and returning to work.

Finally, I can't believe I am saying this, but are you a member of a union? (cringing as I say it) but if you are speak to them

KatieMiddleton Tue 27-Sep-11 14:07:29

So you have a contract for 3 days a week? They have to give you your job back and if that's not possible one of similar or equal standing. A reduction in hours is not the same terms.

First step would be to point that out to them and the second would be formal grievance and then tribunal if they still don't comply. It's pregnancy/maternity discrimination covered by the Equality Act 2010.

weakestlink Tue 27-Sep-11 14:25:26

Ugly no I'm not in a Union sad

Katie my contract is not for any number of fixed hours if that makes a difference? I used to work 4 days/week from 2007-2009 then reduced to 3 following my first maternity leave and been working 3 days/week ever since apart from when I cover for someone else.

KatieMiddleton Tue 27-Sep-11 14:36:49

So you've been working three days a week since 2009? Just because you're contract isn't written doesn't mean it doesn't exisit. Employment contracts don't need to be written. Verbal is fine but you should still have a written statement of employment particulars.

I don't suppose when you reduced your hours you did it via a flexible working agreement? It's not hugely important but it will give you a nice clear bit of evidence.

Do you have any employment contract and if so what does it say about hours?

Uglymush Tue 27-Sep-11 14:38:33

Don't be sad about no union, I tend to find them robbing B******ds anyway! It doesn't really matter about your contract it is about what you were regularly paid to do before your Mat leave. katie is right take out a formal grievance if they insist down this path

Good luck

KatieMiddleton Tue 27-Sep-11 14:43:16

<chokes> Not all unions are bad! Some are terrible wink Seriously, I have known some amazing union reps and unions.

weakestlink Tue 27-Sep-11 14:45:57

I do have a written contract but there is no set number of hours written in it confused.

Katie funnily I did write to them with a flexible working proposal but they didn't know what I was going on about idiots and in the end I just went in and we agreed on the three days (that was Oct/Nov 2008 not 2009 I was mistaken) and I've been doing those days ever since.

I have no problem taking this further if needs be. I can't understand why they have just assumed I wouldnt come back as the could have easilly taken someone on for short-term ML cover and then this whole headache would not have occurred.

Uglymush Tue 27-Sep-11 14:47:58

Sorry Katie my recent experenience has been, don't make my member redundant make 3 others redundant instead (incidently the rep was so thick that all the other 3 were his members too, so what would he have done if we had agreed to that, insist we made 10 people redundant to save one person!) Or in the case of my 62 year old dad the union failed to fight for him losing his pension with 3 years to go. So I currently have a serious loathing. However I have met and been up against some great union reps in the past and do believe that they have a place. Believe it or not I am a member of one!!! ;)

Uglymush Tue 27-Sep-11 14:51:24

OP You have now been doing these hours for 3 years that superceedes any contract. even if they thought you were not returning, you would take on a ML cover only at first, it can always become permanent if necessary.

Take out the grievance. At worse resign and claim constructive dismissal but that is very tricky and dirty and get some serious legal advice before doing that one.

KatieMiddleton Tue 27-Sep-11 14:52:09

It sounds like they don't have a clue about employment law. For some reason I had assumed you work in a GP surgery but I realise there's nothing in your post to suggest that!

Not having your hours detailed if a fairly major omission. Particularly as it's an employment particular - see here

Tbh I wouldn't bring that up yet. They sound so stupid they may just issue you with an new principle statement giving your hours as 12 a week.

Have they also managed your acrued annual leave and other benefits during your maternity leave?

weakestlink Tue 27-Sep-11 15:00:49

Katie I managed to get them to agree to giving me 1/2 accrued AL until end Jan 2012 before I went on ML and 1/2 in January (meaning my return to work day is 01/02/2012) and I have been receiving MA for 39 weeks as I took 4 weeks unpaid holiday during my qualifying period for SMP so did not meet the earnings threshold. But nothing lost as I only earn £117/week anyway and as I was able to choose a few weeks when I had worked extra for my MA claim, I get the full amount of £124 or whatever so I have actually been slightly better off smile No thanks to them though, I did all this myself.

sun1234 Tue 27-Sep-11 15:06:40

Apart from constructive dismissal, its also sexual discrimination. (My lawyer explained that they couldn't/ wouldn't do this to man (because they don't go on maternity leave), so it is happening to you because you are a woman. The important thing to do is to get this sorted out whilst you are still on maternity leave because your protection reduces from the day you go back to work. Call a discrimination lawyer and get a free consultation: they will tell you what your rights are.
Then use that knowledge to convince your employer to reassess their offer to you.
I'd start by writing a letter today to your employer outlining what has happened and expressing your dismay. Don't agree in any way. Just don't comment at all. Send the letter by registered post and keep a copy of it.
Then contact the employment lawyer and consider carefully what they tell you.

Keep a record of every phone call, email, letter and conversation from now on.

KatieMiddleton Tue 27-Sep-11 15:15:05

It's pregnancy/maternity discimination. Not sex discrimination as covered by the Equality Act 2010. It has it's own special provision which is good because being a woman isn't enough (not all women have babies) and since last April men have been able to take additional paternity leave.

I wouldn't contact a lawyer just yet. They're hugely expensive and the OP's employer sounds incompetent and stupid rather than deliberately discriminating.

sun1234 Tue 27-Sep-11 15:50:04

My info might be out of date. It was sex discrimination when it happened to me seven years ago (or at least the tribunal decided it was). It was a horrible, horrible time in my life.

Initial consultations are free. Also there was a charity that gave good, free advice - i think it was called the maternity alliance. But legal fees are very expensive, unless you have legal cover bought with your home insurance??

sun1234 Tue 27-Sep-11 15:52:30

KatieMiddleton Tue 27-Sep-11 16:19:42

The new act gave extra provision and rolled lots of legislation up into one place. A friend of mine <coughs> who went through something similar less than two years ago claimed sex discrimination for the reasons you describe sun but I must say the new legislation is better and much clearer.

A maternity action are a fine charity. I've been involved with them before smile

weakestlink Tue 27-Sep-11 19:53:25

I have emailed my employer saying that I have now sought advice and I think I am entitled to return to my old job ie. 3 days per week.

I hope this makes her read up on maternity rights! I'm so glad I went in today as at least I still have a few months to get this all sorted out!

If the job market wasn't so bad I would just find a new job but there's no chance of that at the moment sadly!

Maybe I should join a union! This isnt't the first time I have had problems with my employer!

KatieMiddleton Tue 27-Sep-11 22:51:08

Good for you OP! Love "I have now sought advice" smile

Good luck and keep us updated. I like to know what happens when I give advice <needy>

Uglymush Wed 28-Sep-11 11:25:14

Pleased you are taking some positive action. As Katie says please keep us updated

Good luck

weakestlink Thu 29-Sep-11 18:48:59

No reply as of yet...

Uglymush Thu 29-Sep-11 20:46:53

I'd give it over the weekend and then if still no reply raise it as a formal grievance as then they have to reply within the timeframes set out in the policy. All you are doing helps your case if it ever escalates to that point.

weakestlink Thu 29-Sep-11 23:06:14

Thank you ugly that's a good plan.

My best mate is bringing her new BF round to meet us on Saturday and most conveniently he is a solicitor specialising in....... Yup you guessed it! Employment Law smile Very considerate of her I know! Anyway he has said he will help me if needs be.

It's all so awkward though as I work with friends! I have tried to go over my manager's head though and go straight to the business owner as she calls the shots. I am keeping in mind though if my friends jobs was at stake then they'd do the same thing.

Uglymush Fri 30-Sep-11 19:52:25

Handy timing of your friend smile

I think you are right your friends, esp if they are true friends, will understand where you are coming from.

weakestlink Sun 02-Oct-11 07:24:53

Still no reply.... going to do as ugly has suggested and raise a formal grievance. Best mate's BF has said to ask for a copy of my contract at the same time (cannot find it).

Have found an email from 30 Nov 2010 with a letter attached stating that my "average hours were 18/week" (= 3 days as my shifts are 6 hours each) which I needed for a claim for employment support allowance when I was off sick during my pregnancy. I was not entitled to SSP becuase of the weeks unpaid leave I took in October.

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