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Redundancy and suitable employment in mat leave

(19 Posts)
MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Fri 14-Mar-14 17:35:01

Hoping for some advice as feeling a bit sick about all of this.

History in brief : was employed 3 days a week at a small company, reporting directly to directors. I had a very good salary. This company was taken over by a large us company and formed a new department within it.

Whilst I was pregnant I was told that the us had decided that my role needed to be full time and that I was paid too much. I went through a horrible few months, but eventually agreed on a new, full time contract at around a 35% pay cut, with a different reporting line to the office manager. As my role was being made redundant,my contract doesn't kick in until I return from mat leave, and I have the option of taking redundancy instead (though the terms of redundancy were never clarified). I naively believed my directors that there would be a new flexible role available by the time I returned. I am due back in 7 weeks, though I'm using some accrued holiday so it's more like 4 weeks until my new contract kicks in.

I recommended the person who did my maternity cover (ex colleague) and she is fantastic. I've just found out that there has been a big restructure. My maternity leave cover has been offered a permanent position, which is basically the same role but more senior reporting straight to the director (ie my old role but full time). It hasn't been made clear yet about the role I was supposed to be returning to, but as they are so similar I'm really doubtful as to whether there are two roles, so at this stage it seems that they are not expecting me to return to the role.

I've been told about another role that they want me to consider, which should have more flexibility, but it sounds like an even greater payout and I wouldn't be able to cover my childcare costs.

I'm waiting for more clarification but I'd like to be well informed before I start having these discussions. As far as I understand, as I've been made redundant and I'm on mat leave, I'm entitled to any suitable role, so I should have been offered the role offered to my mat leave cover first? Especially as it's more similar to the role that I was made redundant from than the one I have been offered? And any role offered also shouldn't be significantly worse, so the salary decrease in the role they want me to do is not lawful? I know what they hired my mat cover on, and I also know that she will have negotiated a pay rise for the permanent role, so she will be being paid significantly more than me. I can totally understand why they want to keep her as she's great, and has been doing the role full time for a year with late nights etc which I can't do because of my children. However I feel that they have gone about this really badly, especially by getting her to call me unofficially instead of actually calling me in to speak about it?!

If anyone can help me with where I stand I'd be really grateful, as I feel like I'm being royally shafted. One of the director's that hired me has also just been screwed over so it's not just me...

MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Fri 14-Mar-14 17:37:05

* even greater pay cut not payout!

MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Sat 15-Mar-14 08:20:55

Can anyone help? Flowery? sad

duskymoon Sat 15-Mar-14 08:33:02

Well that will change when she goes off to have a baby!

Seriously though - do you have legal cover through your house insurance? Mine has a helpline you can. Have a look on the acas website - they should have guidance and lots is likely to be from an employers perspective so you can see what they should have done

mamababa Sat 15-Mar-14 08:44:01

IME US companies know jack shit about UK employment law so unless there is a UK HR person in the organisation it's highly possible that they could be doing things wrong. I am a bit confused by this with regards to new contract and redundancy etc. Are you still officially employed there? My understanding is that you are entitled to go back to either your own job or one that is similar if for any reason your old job is no longer there with equal pay and conditions as before.

sleeplessbunny Sat 15-Mar-14 08:53:21

I'm not an expert, but if your role was being made redundant then surely they cannot recruit someone else into the same role? They can't have it both ways: either they have to give you old job back or it has been made redundant, in which case it no loner exists so no-one else can be doing it. I would speak to ACAS straight away, OP.

KipT77 Sat 15-Mar-14 09:15:30

Argh just wrote a long post an lost it. Right trying again. Call ACAS. Seems to me (if I'm understanding it correctly) that you've made a decision to accept different terms on the basis of your role ceasing to exist as it was.... Except it does essentially still exist as your mat. cover has been offered it. Did you have anything around the redundancy in writing? If so keep it safe and it may be worth digging out any old performance objectives that show the responsibilities you had. US companies can be quite cavalier given the laws are very different over there. Be clear about what you want as an outcome, gather your facts and see if you can speak to someone in HR. Read up on redundancy too (ACAS or CIPD websites are good) Keep in mind that if you need this job/want to keep working with this company you don't want to go in for fisticuffs straight away. It sounds dodge to me though. Good luck!

KipT77 Sat 15-Mar-14 09:30:31

OP I'm happy to help you prep your case if that's useful

MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Sat 15-Mar-14 09:49:33

That's the thing, my role was never actually redundant, it's continued with the same responsibilities but with a different title and reporting line. They basically didn't want me to work part time and redundancy was the way to do it (they also rejected my job share proposal for quite spurious reasons). I was in a more precarious situation at that point as less rights when pg as opposed to mat leave, and had been there less than two years. I've been there more than two years now and obvs on mat leave so law is on my side more (as far as I can tell).

If they get around this by saying I can still return to the role I signed the contract for, do I have any comeback on the fact they have offered this more senior position, more closely aligned to my old role, to my mat cover without considering or contacting me about it?

At this stage I'm not sure I do want to go back, but if I do take redundancy/settlement I want to be sure I'm getting a fair deal, and if they are discriminating I def will go for settlement

Kip, can you PM me your details?

MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Sat 15-Mar-14 09:56:23

Oh, and no HR department! I'm not sure I have any job description over my old role either because I was hired as a pa and it developed into something very different with more responsibility. I only ever had very positive feedback on the role I was doing, and my change in job title (that has now been given to my my cover) was agreed between me an my directors as more fitting to my role. It was on my signature.

caroldecker Sat 15-Mar-14 11:30:44

Only a role can be made redundant, not a person.

flowery Sat 15-Mar-14 15:51:11

"I've just found out that there has been a big restructure."

Well that's the concern really. You shouldn't just find out, you should be involved in it and consulted about it.

You say one role ended before your maternity leave but your new role wasn't due to start until after your maternity leave. If your role is redundant but you start a new role, the new role starts immediately your other one is redundant. What terms and conditions are you employed on right now?

If your role is redundant while you are on maternity leave, and there is a suitable alternative vacancy, you are entitled to be offered it. Suitable alternative means suitable for your skills and experience, and the same or no less favourable terms and conditions (pay, hours, location etc).

I'm not clear at what point your role was redundant, so whether or not that extra protection applies, but if there are jobs available and you are at risk, they shouldn't be offering permanent employment to your maternity cover (the fact that there is a maternity cover suggests there's not a redundancy situation in the first place), and they should be consulting with you, informing you and involving you in any restructuring, potential redundancy, new roles etc. By not doing so they are treating you less favourably because of your maternity leave which is unlawful discrimination.

MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Sun 16-Mar-14 08:22:15

I thought so flowery sad

You actually replied to my posts when I was pregnant and at that point it seemed they could get away with the redundancy. I basically had to sign a new contract, but I have in writing that my new role doesn't start until my return, and I have 4 weeks into the role to change my mind and also accept redundancy. During this time I had legal advice and a lawyer willing to take my case on no win no fee, but I didn't really want to go through that and marr my last few weeks of pregnancy, and I genuinely hoped to be able to return as my department was great, it's the wider company with the problem.

My contract is undated as my return to work date wasn't confirmed (and I've extended my leave to 1 year). However I wonder if the fact I've signed it means I've signed my rights away? They also never told me what is be offered as redundancy, but I'd been there less than two years so I felt backed into a corner and that I needed to sign in order to have some security and to be able to make a decision on my return.

I had actually decided to return to work and have recently been discussing rtw dates with the office manger and my directors, so they knew this was the case.

I know they also wanted to keep my maternity cover, fair enough. But the fact that she was asked to call me, and tell me that they have offered her a permanent role in a position that I used to do and would much prefer to do was awful, and very awkward for her. I know they will try and get around it by saying its a new different role (which will be rubbish) so I'm not sure how many rights I have in that case anyway?

In tears now, I feel so helpless as I'm not there. I emailed the office manager (who is my line manager in the new contract I signed) saying I had the call from my mat cover, what is the new role they are talking about, what does this mean for the role I am supposed to be returning to and will I be asked to come in to discuss it?

What should my next steps be from here? Should I get lawyers involved now or wait? It's only 4 weeks until my new contract is supposed to start so if I need to use the fact I'm still on mat leave to protect me I need to move quickly

MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Sun 16-Mar-14 08:23:44

Oh I should add that I only got smp, but the 90% was calculated on my old salary not the new one.

I am actually completely unsure which contract I'm actually employed under right now. I know work will say it's the new one, but can that be the case if I haven't technically started the job?

MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Sun 16-Mar-14 09:00:59

I've just looked through my letters and have one stating that the terms and conditions of my new role do not commence until I return, and my status remains as "at risk" throughout my maternity leave. It also states that I will be notified of any other opportunities for alternative employment that might arise and could take effect on my return.

They should have offered me the new role shouldn't they?

OodlesofOods Sun 16-Mar-14 16:17:01

I've no idea of the legal stuff but I'd get onto a lawyer on Monday to advise me.

BusinessUnusual Sun 16-Mar-14 21:42:35

Yy to a lawyer - it sounds complex and quite likely they've made a mistake. You will be able to decide with the lawyer what you want (which may be a settlement and a clean break) when your rights are clear to you.

Oly4 Mon 17-Mar-14 20:48:13

You need legal advice but i think you're right. Try and babylaw
I think you need to ask a lawyer

MrsArmitagesFaithfulDog Tue 18-Mar-14 13:33:28

Well spoken to both ACAS and an employment lawyer through the redundancy forum, and they both have different opinions on whether this is actually discrimination, and whether I should have been informed about the role offered to my mat cover.

I'm still largely in the dark about whether the role I was supposed to return to actually exists any more as the director who called me has now also been made redundant and wasn't given any info, just asked to find out if I would be interested in an alternative role. I've said potentially yes, and asked for details but haven't been given any yet. I'm also unsure as to whether I can still opt for redundancy. I am worried that they are trying to stall until after I'm back so I'm not protected By mat cover and if I refuse the lower paid job then they may not have to pay me redundancy sad

One thing that does seem to be the case though is that employers can pretty much do whatever the hell they like, as when you factor in the cost of taking a case to tribunal plus having to pay legal fees regardless of outcome, it hardly seems worth it. Feeling very low sad

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