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i don't know what to do (long, sorry)

(10 Posts)
TheNaughtySausage Fri 25-Oct-13 13:20:22

I'm currently on mat leave and due to go back to work in the new year. I'll have had the full 52 weeks.

I work for a small arts organisation with a team of 4 office staff. I'm used to working weekend and evenings, but on a movable Rota, so every week I was working slightly different shifts.

In August I had an informal meeting with my boss about my return. I told her that I'd like to go back full time, but due to childcare I wouldn't be able to be as flexible as before - I'm still happy to work evenings and weekends, but they'd have to be fixed days and hours.

During the meeting my boss said she would like my mat cover (let's call her Jane) to stay on after I return, but she wasn't sure in what capacity.

This week I've had a letter from my boss agreeing to the fixed rota I asked for, and offering me a pay rise - but for a completely different role. Basically my boss has given my role to Jane and I've been offered a role which was vacated back in July. It's less interesting work and not related to what I was doing before. I feel as though my boss thinks Jane is more suited to my role than I am and has used my absence to shoehorn me out of it.

I know that I'm entitled to return to my old job after additional maternity leave unless it's not reasonably practicable. But since the role still exists, that's not the case, so it's unlawful discrimination.

The problem I have is that I don't earn enough to do a 9-5 Mon-Fri job. The evening and weekend working means I only have to pay for two days a week of childcare. So that's one advantage. The other is the pay rise. It's not a massive one but it's better than nothing! The chances of me finding a similar role elsewhere with the same working pattern are virtually nil.

I know my boss well enough to know that if I raise the issue of the unlawful discrimination, she'll probably stamp her feet and make life very difficult for me. (She's one of those bosses that people ask what kind of mood she's in before they go in to her office). It's such a small team that I wouldn't really be able to stay out of her way. Should I just take it on the chin, think of the advantages of what I've been offered and look for something else? Or should I raise this, and risk being her scratching post for the foreseeable future? I already feel as though she has no confidence in my abilities if she wants Jane to carry on in my role.

I don't have any other line manager other than my boss. The only alternative would be to go to the board of directors, which I would rather not do in the first instance.

Am I being a wuss? What should I do? Part of me thinks I should just go with it, but the other part thinks why should I let her get away with unlawful discrimination and why should I be disadvantaged for having a baby?

Please help. Sorry this is so long.

Hotbot Fri 25-Oct-13 13:40:02

Hmm, if you think you will enjoy the new role , then go for it, but ask to work the shifts that you did before if possible. Otherwise in afraid that I would insist on having my old job back, but you can bet your bottom dollar she won't be flexible over your shift request.

antimatter Fri 25-Oct-13 13:44:18

I may be wrong, but I am not sure you have standing here as you've asked to change pattern of work. Therefore you aren't prepared to get back to your old role.

Minnieisthedevilmouse Fri 25-Oct-13 13:46:54

My advice is hang fire til flowery gets here or pm her direct possibly. She's got a shrewd head and will ask you good questions .

Arion Fri 25-Oct-13 13:52:58

If you take ordinary maternity leave, you have the right to return to your original role. If you take additional maternity leave, you have the right to your job, or similar. Similar means the same or better terms and conditions. You have asked for different terms (working hours), and they have offered a pay rise. There is no unlawful discrimination here.

hermioneweasley Fri 25-Oct-13 13:56:18

Is it truly do-able to do your old role on a fixed rota? What impact woukd it have on the other Rota workers?

What is your preferred outcome? Your old job on a fixed rota? Are you prepared to resign over the issue?

janey68 Fri 25-Oct-13 15:03:32

I second the advice to wait for flowery as she's excellent on the specifics. But it doesn't look like discrimination on the face of it. If you opt for additional maternity leave, as has been said above, if some internal restructuring has gone on, they are entitled to offer you an alternative which must be of at least the same pay/ level. You clearly feel 'Jane' has been placed in your exact post, but it may be there are some differences and therefore it's not discriminatory ( though flowery is the expert on issues such as whether this should have been communicated to you so you could have had the chance to apply for the role, if its been changed)

If you are absolutely 100% sure you want your exact post back, it's advisable to take the ordinary leave without the additional element.

However it sounds like you aren't keen to have your old job back as it was, anyway.

I would seriously consider moving sideways to the new post. Are you sure it's really not going to be as fulfilling?

I see your dilemma but ultimately if you hold out for your previous role, I suspect your boss will insist its the same as before and won't offer flexibility so you're then back to square one- unless of course you want the expense and hassle of sorting childcare for varying shifts which sounds problematic.

It's clear you're very unlikely to get exactly what you want ie: your old job but with fixed days for weekend and evening work, and to be honest, in a small team of 4, that's a pretty big ask. So- if you're not going to get that, think about what is your next preferable option .

flowery Fri 25-Oct-13 15:13:44

I think you need to calm down a little bit. It's by no means clear that there has been unlawful discrimination here, and your boss would probably consider that she's gone out of her way to accommodate you and keep you.

You are entitled to your job back on the same terms unless not reasonably practicable, but it doesn't sound like anyone's said you can't have it.

It sounds like you said you want to return but only if you can have a change to your working hours. Your boss felt she could accommodate your request in this other job so has offered it to you.

If you genuinely feel your original job could be done in the hours you want, put it a proper formal flexible working request setting out the business case and addressing any concerns you feel your boss may have. You could always offer a trial period as well.

TheNaughtySausage Fri 25-Oct-13 21:33:39

Thanks for all your replies. Re the hours, all office staff operate on a Rota which changes according to the needs of the organisation, as all staff are required to undertake duty management responsibilities alongside their specific roles. It's a theatre, so this means that someone needs to be on front of house and duty managing for shows. So everyone does at least one, usually two evening shifts during the week, and at least one weekend shift. It's not a case of a certain role requiring certain hours or days, as far as everyone's concerned you do your job when you're in the building, I.e. you run around like a headless chicken til the show goes up doing box office and liaising with tech to start the thing, then once that's done you can get on with your other job like writing the programme or doing finance or whatever. So the issue isn't really the hours since it doesn't affect the role if they're fixed.

I haven't been consulted about the role, just offered it. And in the letter it says that Jane will be staying on, as my old job title (marketing manager). I probably did overreact a bit but it really does look like I have been guidelines. The role I have been offered is lots more administrative and no marketing at all, so it is a bit of a step down in terms of duties and responsibilities despite the pay increase - which makes me think I'm being bought off a bit, although that is probably me being paranoid.

I will probably just take it but thank you for letting me sound off!

TheNaughtySausage Fri 25-Oct-13 21:35:41

Sidelined not guidelines!

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