Can they ask me this?(5 Posts)
I am 15 weeks pg with dc2. I told my Head of department (am a teacher) after my 12 week scan, and obviously word has got round, which is fine. Yesterday I went to see a member of admin staff about an exam entry. She is not someone go I have discussed my pg with, and she hasn't acknowledged my pregnancy so far. She is also the cover manager. At the end of the conversation, she asked me 'when are you coming back?'. I honestly did not understand what she was talking about first! Then she sort of backtracked and said 'I mean I know you haven't actually gone yet, and you don't have to say just now, but I was just drawing up a contract for your replacement...'. I was quite taken aback. Obviously I know plans need to be made but as far as I am concerned I am still in the early stages. I haven't even thought about leaving yet, let alone returning and the conversation unsettled me.
I am extra sensitive about this as my previous maternity leave was marred by my line manager (who has since left) sending me hostile and emails about my return.
Was she within her rights to ask me this? Or am I just beig over sensitive because of my previous experience?
My understanding is that no, they absolutely can't ask.
As a teacher myself I don't think that this is a unreasonable question. I have given my date for going on leave, and they asked if I knew how long I was thinking of- e.g was I thinking of coming back in September, or would it be more like Christmas or was I thinking of longer? They weren't trying to pin me to a date at all, just wanting to have an idea of what type of cover they would be looking for. It seemed perfectly reasonably me, but obviously I don't have your history. Hopefully it was just an innocent question without any hidden meaning. Fingers crossed for you. Xx
It's perfectly fine for your employer to ask. You don't have to say, as she clearly knows and acknowledges. But there's nothing inherently wrong in them asking the question, and it sounds like she has the best of reasons for asking. If you were 85% certain you would be coming back after 6 months and were able to tell them that, that might make theirs job of covering you easier.
If you aren't sure or prefer not to say, that's absolutely fine, and they couldn't penalise you for that or try to force you to say.
But it really doesn't sound like that. It sounds like it would be helpful for her to know if possible, so she is asking the question, but is fully aware that you don't have to respond if you don't want to.
I understand you have had problems before, but try not to allow those problems get you into a situation where you are perceiving slights where there are none.
Sounds like an inappropriate person to ask you (ie not your line manager, regardless of any implications for her own responsibilities) at an inappropriately early time. Not illegal for her to ask though, especially as she made clear you weren't required to answer. Fwiw I would have been both unnerved and annoyed at her approaching me that way.
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