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Maternity leave issue from the other side

(25 Posts)
ElephantsEye Thu 21-Nov-13 23:18:06

Person A is on ML. (She does not currently report to me.) Her job had 2 aspects to it, B&C. Temp has been brought in to cover part B only; part C is now under a different manager.
Boss is more impressed with Temp than with A, and has now asked me to create a post in my team for A to take up on her return.

Boss is aware of A's right to return to same-grade post. Boss can see her in a new role which I also think she could do well in, as she has appropriate personal qualities. A would retain her grading, but the post itself would be less prestigious (and would normally be lower grade than A is on). It could however be carried out PT, and Boss is speculating that A will want to work PT rather than FT!

Alternatively, we could combine the less-prestigious post with part C of her original post, but only if the other manager agrees. A would then report to 2 different managers.

The other complication is that we probably need someone in the new role before A returns.

Any advice on trying to sell the less-prestigious cut-and-shut post to A? Has anyone successfully (ie legally) negotiated this minefield and managed to keep everybody happy?

We have an HR dept but I don't want to approach them yet.

TwoStepsBeyond Thu 21-Nov-13 23:23:43

Surely the 'prestige' isn't really an issue if the job is the same grade and same pay? You need the best person for the job so if temp is better than A it makes sense. But then I'm not an employee on mat leave, so I'm only seeing it from an employer POV!

Perhaps you should start by sounding out A about potential for PT work?

plantsitter Thu 21-Nov-13 23:29:20

So you're basically saying that the job one person was doing is now being done by two people and that the person doing half the job the other person was doing is performing better? And will be taking over the position of someone on maternity leave?

Additionally you are planning to make a part time role for somebody without asking if they want to work part time?

I'm sure there are ways round doing this so you don't get sued. But frankly you should all be ashamed of yourselves. Morally this is sexual discrimination. Having a child has basically ruined this woman's career.

DontCallMeDaughter Thu 21-Nov-13 23:36:16

Is person A definitely off for more than 6 months? If she returns within 6 months then she's entitled to her old job back.

I have a feeling she'll see right through this, you can't really sell a lesser job to her if she's not interested. It's not really in the spirit of maternity leave.

This thread makes for pretty uncomfortable reading. You're basically happy to fuck this poor woman over because she went on Mat Leave....

TheDoctrineOfWho Thu 21-Nov-13 23:46:29

And if she returns between 6 and 12 months you should offer her the old job back if reasonably practical - the default is the old job , not an equivalent job.

JoinYourPlayfellows Thu 21-Nov-13 23:51:45

"Surely the 'prestige' isn't really an issue if the job is the same grade and same pay?"

No, the status of the job matters too.

MortifiedAnyFuckerAdams Thu 21-Nov-13 23:53:53

Im pretty sure A would be very good at task B if she didnt have to do C either.

GingerbreadMoomin Fri 22-Nov-13 00:04:39

I think it's awful that you're even asking that. If the person on maternity leave returns by the end of her 39 weeks she is entitled to return to exactly the same job she left. If you want something sorting sooner then do it on a temporary contract with the view to having some sort of permanent agreement made depending on what the returning lady wishes to do.

onelittlepiglet Fri 22-Nov-13 00:25:40

This happened to me when I went on maternity leave as my manager and head of department both left during my mat leave, except the new managers didn't try and 'sell me' anything. My maternity cover never left and was made my manager - doing the job I had been doing (dressed up to look different). I got left with the scraps she didn't want to do. Even my application for flexible working (one day from home every month) was turned down and they made it clear I was was not valued or welcome back.

To say was screwed over is an understatement. After 9 months of no sleep I had no energy, money or self respect to fight it.

After 4 months I got a new, much better job where I was respected and was promoted after three months. Shock horror, a woman who has had a baby is capable of doing a good job and hasn't suddenly lost the abilities she had before.

DontCallMeDaughter Fri 22-Nov-13 09:48:17

Doesn't look like the OP is coming back... But let's hope they're rethinking their reorg!

ElephantsEye Sat 23-Nov-13 08:51:59

Sorry for the delay in responding. Sometimes life gets between me and MN smile

I asked because I am not happy about this myself (been there!). It's the Boss who is asking me to work out what to do with A. I was pretty shocked at his presumption that she would not want to work FT on her return. I agree with the comments re status and that A would see through the nonsense the Boss is proposing.

piglet that was appalling treatment; well done for getting where you are today.

Just for the record, I posted because I just can't see how to achieve what the Boss wants without screwing A over, and I don't want to be party to that. That's also why I didn't approach our own HR at this stage. He knows the law but he's found someone better at the job than A and wants to keep her. The job does not need 2 people to do it FT.

mortified: B was the main part of A's job, but when things were quiet she spent time on C, basically 'helping out' a different manager (not me) rather than sitting twiddling her thumbs. He has since recruited his own staff which is why the Temp is not covering it. The Temp is also focusing mainly on B, and when she has any free time she helps my team out.

I think I need to be creative about this. There are some major organisational changes ahead, and probably some increase in workload for A's role (but not doubling). I am trying to see if I can design 2 jobs, one for A and one for the Temp, which will allow them each to be responsible for part of B as well as something else, eg A might do C (or something else) and the Temp might do something new (D?). That would provide robust cover for the B part of the role, as there would be resilience in the event of holidays, training days, sickness, etc and possibly job enrichment for both.

Thoughts welcome.

TheDoctrineOfWho Sat 23-Nov-13 09:02:26

Elephants, I'm not an HR professional but I'm not sure that helps you. If your boss wants to keep the temp, don't you need to design a new role for the temp so that A can come back to her usual role?

How long has A been off and when is she coming back, do you know yet?

ElephantsEye Sat 23-Nov-13 09:15:15

The problem behind all this is that the boss has decided that the temp is doing the job better than A did. If he could do anything he liked and ignore the law, he'd just keep the temp. I'm perfectly prepared to tell him that what he wants to do achieve is illegal (he does actually know that) and I'm not going to help him. But I'm trying to see what possible options there are, working on the assumption that A wants to come back FT into her old job. My job is to come up with a solution that will keep everybody happy ... where's my magic wand?!

Doctrine: A won't be back for another 9 months or so.

FeetUpUnitilChristmas Sat 23-Nov-13 09:39:04

Speaking as an employer, I understand the 'bosses' point of view, he has now within his department an employee who is doing a job well and would like to retain that person which is a fair point. He also has an employee on ML that could do the job and others too, however she will not be available to work for the next 9 months, then she may want to come back to the full roles or just as likely ask fir part time working or not come back at all, he cannot ask the question he just has to wait and see. However business is about planning, he probably has to work to targets and manage his department, set staff budgets etc and he can't so he has started to look for a solution. This is all normal business practice.

Yes he must keep within the law, there is no harm in thinking of solutions that could be workable but it is something that can't be finalised until the employee is ready to return from ML.

ElephantsEye Sat 23-Nov-13 10:06:58

FeetUp - Glad to hear from an employer who appreciates the situation.

Sounds like I have to tell boss that he must assume A will return to her post. Do people on ML still have to declare their intentions by a given date to confirm the return date, or does that apply only if they want to come back earlier (ie 8 weeks' notice)?

If A returns to her old post FT, as she has every right to, then he has to take her back, however much he may dislike the idea. If he later decides she's not performing well enough, then he has to deal with that in the appropriate way, surely?

TwoStepsBeyond Sat 23-Nov-13 10:59:14

There's another thread on here where someone's request for flexible working was turned down and she's decided not to go back, but isn't sure when to tell her employer - now or when she's due to return. It will be difficult for her boss to plan effectively the longer she leaves it. She will obviously work it so that she can retain her maternity pay if possible, even if that means going back temporarily and resigning later, by which time in this situation, Temp has moved on to a new job, A hands in notice and boss has to find and train someone new to do B, C & D! If he was able to ascertain earlier what A actually plans to do then he could decide whether he needs to keep on Temp and move things around to accommodate everyone. That sounds like common sense to me.

I can see why he wants to keep his options open rather than assume that A will be ready and happy to come back in 9 months to exactly the same role with the same hours as before her mat leave. Plenty of people do want to change their hours and responsibilities once they have to combine them with DCs.

ElephantsEye Sat 23-Nov-13 12:09:57

"TwoSteps* - that's it in a nutshell.

Fortunately she comes into the office from time to time for a catch-up, so hopefully if she wants to explore other options there will be a chance to do so.

TheDoctrineOfWho Sat 23-Nov-13 13:10:30

I'm glad your boss knows he's acting illegally! This is just the same as, "hmm, Fred in the corner is getting on a bit, wonder if the energeticintern would like a permanent job...?"

It's not that I don't see your boss's point of view, it's just that this is precisely the reason the laws are as they are. If A hadn't gone on ML, I'm assuming there wouldn't have been disciplinary action for under performance or anything?

Re intentions, I believe you need to work on the basis that she is coming back at the end of her OML, she needs to give you 8 weeks' notice of intention to come back earlier, but not otherwise.

mariefab Sat 23-Nov-13 13:30:15

You are wise not want to get involved in this.
Be aware that the 'Boss' would be personally liable (in addition to the employer's vicarious liability) if he follows through with this and a claim is subsequently raised.
If you helped him, so would you. See 111 & 112 below.

ElephantsEye Sat 23-Nov-13 14:15:53

marie - thank you, and that's exactly why I used MN as a sounding board rather than approaching HR!

Doctrine re under performance:I believe some under-performance issues had surfaced, nothing serious AFAIK. It's none of my business, as she doesn't report to me.

janey68 Sun 24-Nov-13 09:26:49

I can see both sides of this, as a parent and also as someone who recruits to my team at work. It can be really difficult trying to balance the need to plan, set targets and also take into account employees who are currently on ML and may (or may not ) return.

I agree that the boss needs to assume for the moment that the employee will return to her post. If she takes a year off, and there are structural changes happening anyway, then she doesn't retain the right to her old post but would need something of equivalent salary and status. It sounds as though the woman is perhaps taking the additional leave? (you say shes unlikely to be back for another 9 months ans has already been off long enough for someone else to 'prove themself' in the role, so you are hinting at a year long ML which will probably mean the boss will make some organisational changes) And of course if she doesn't want to accept her full time post back then that changes things again, because that's the only thing has has an automatic right to, and anything else would need to be negotiated.

Any competency issues are totally separate and should be dealt with as such. It's difficult to tell though whether its one person just doing the job better, or whether there is actual incompetence from the other employee

nicelyneurotic Thu 28-Nov-13 22:46:14

Could you try talking to the employee first to see how she feels?

I am also in a job combining a part A and B. it's quite difficult to juggle and stressful at times. My application for flexible working after maternity leave was denied as the boss doesn't like part timers. However, I would have been delighted if I could have done either part A or B of the job part time. I don't care about status.

Have an informal chat and ask if she would like to work flexibly. Then give her the solution of how it can be done. It might be win-win for everyone?

TheDoctrineOfWho Thu 28-Nov-13 22:50:03

The employee has only been off three months so she has a very young baby.

I don't think an informal chat at this stage is reasonable and is possibly prejudicial.

YuleNeverKnow Sat 30-Nov-13 13:15:30

nicely - yes but as Doctrine says, not yet. I expect a clearer picture will emerge naturally once she starts popping in more regularly. Can't expect her to have made up her mind yet.

YuleNeverKnow Sat 30-Nov-13 13:16:03

Just wanted to say thanks to all for the comments, they've been really helpful.

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