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Checking work emails whilst on maternity leave

(34 Posts)
Hopingforpeace Thu 20-Nov-14 21:12:13

Just a quick question. I have contacted my union but they won't be able to reply until tomorrow, hoping some clever people here will be able to tell me if i am in the wrong or not.
I am half way through my maternity leave. I intend to take the full year and return next June. They have all this in writing.
When I went on maternity leave I handed over my work iPad for the girl who is covering my leave.
I was phoned today and asked to go into a disciplinary meeting next I am not replying to emails.
This threw me as I didn't think I had to look at anything to do with work right now and I certainly don't think I should be disciplined about this.
The only way I could look at my emails would be through my personal iPhone or personal laptop. Are they right to demand that I check my emails daily? To be honest, sometimes it is a struggle to even find time to brush my hair daily let alone reply to work emails.
The back story is there is just about enough evidence for me to go for constructive dismissal due to bullying. I haven't done anything about it as I have enough on my plate with a three year old and 5 month old.
I cannot see anything specific to maternity leave in the replying to emails part of my job description. Usually we have to reply with 2 working days unless on holiday. I'm not on holiday so I don't know if that means they have found a loop hole to get rid of me. They probably know that the union and I have been building my case and want to not pay me off.
I said, I wasn't able to sort childcare for next week's meeting. That is true but mainly this was to buy me some time to speak to the union. I feel sick.

hollie84 Thu 20-Nov-14 21:14:35

No, you don't have to do any work on maternity leave unless you agree to a paid keeping in touch day - that includes checking emails or attending meetings.

LordEmsworth Thu 20-Nov-14 21:18:17 may be helpful - it doesn't answer directly, but there are some phone numbers at the bottom that may be helpful...

Hopingforpeace Thu 20-Nov-14 21:21:26

Thank goodness for that. I thought that as there is no mention of may leave on that bit of my terms of employment they had found a loop hole and I hadn't covered myself. Just more to be added to my evidence of misconduct and bullying then. Great. sad

tribpot Thu 20-Nov-14 21:28:27

Wow - so not only do they think you should be checking emails (wrong) but you should be doing it on your own equipment and at your own expense? Are they having a laugh?

Don't they have someone covering your role whilst on maternity leave? If they forgot this rather elementary step in managing your absence I would suggest they are muppets of the highest order.

Hope you are successful in fighting your corner, they sound shit.

custardismyhamster Thu 20-Nov-14 21:30:20

I'm a union regional organiser and am so glad you are in a union. Make sure they have your back here. There should be NO disciplinary whilst on mat leave for a start!
Feel free to PM me if I can help at all

Finola1step Thu 20-Nov-14 21:30:44

Fight your corner on this one.

TheBookofRuth Thu 20-Nov-14 21:32:53

Whaaaaaaat?! That's ludicrous. I worked in HR for years and they have absolutely no grounds to expect you to be picking up work emails whilst on mat leave.

Figster Thu 20-Nov-14 21:34:32

Christo they are crackers you are on mat leave that means no work commitments unless on a Kit day.

sooperdooper Thu 20-Nov-14 21:37:59

Jesus christ they are mental and completely in the wrong - of course you don't have to answer work emails when you're on maternity leave! Let your union throw the book at them, is it a large company, do they have a HR dept?

Also, not that they can legally take you to a disciplinary for this anyway, but I thought you have to be given verbal warnings before being taken to a formal disciplinary and you have to have been given notice in writing for that kind of meeting - your union will confirm all of this I'm sure

Good luck, you've done nothing wrong, they sound ridiculous and awful

Vikingbiker Thu 20-Nov-14 21:40:12

A few years ago you could take up to 10 keeping in touch days over the course of the maternity leave.

As it stands they have soneone doing your job - so why isn't she picking up the emails?

notjustamummythankyou Thu 20-Nov-14 21:44:48

So wrong.

I work in HE, and was informally 'told off' for checking my email while on mat leave! If you're on leave, you're on leave.

I hope you get it sorted. flowers

queenofthepirates Thu 20-Nov-14 21:47:11

I had similar issues with my company whilst on mat leave. I approached them with a 'hmmmm.... so how can we make this go away' kind of conversation to which they wrote a number and we agreed on it eventually.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 20-Nov-14 21:51:28

Good grief. They sound utterly incompetent.

Tiredemma Thu 20-Nov-14 21:54:59

I was bollocked for checking my emails (and then had my blackberry taken off me!!!)

Its a big no no- unless you have arranged Keeping in Touch days

Please update us - ill be intruiged to know how they think they can get away with this

Fattyfattyyumyum Thu 20-Nov-14 21:57:48


You're actively not allowed to do any work while on mat leave, except as part of KIT day. You only have 10 of those to use and if you do any work after that you are effectively ending your leave and they don't have to pay SMP anymore.

drspouse Thu 20-Nov-14 22:02:47

You can still take up to 10 KiT days which are either paid themselves or you get ToiL (we get the latter).

You are supposed to be in touch otherwise to the extent that you can for example reply to an urgent email/phone call regarding something reasonable (e.g. where is the code for the safe) or regarding your return to work, I believe, other than that. If you can't check emails owing to not having work equipment at home, you would be reasonably expected to respond to a letter or phone call, but not immediately.

Partydilemmas Thu 20-Nov-14 22:05:34

Crazy! What time frame would they have expected you to start answering? The day after birth? confused

flowery Thu 20-Nov-14 22:14:26

They are going to discipline a woman on maternity leave for not working? Perhaps they have an HR manager who's dying for a bit of tribunal experience or something. I can think of no other explanation for that level of stupidity.

Vikingbiker Thu 20-Nov-14 22:22:23

What's in thier emails? Are they demanding you to work?

It's totally unreasonable to remove your iPad and then expect you to read emails. Correspondence should have been by letter or phone.

Google Michelle Stone. Sorry can't link. She was bombarded with demanding emails then awarded 18k at a later date. They also wanted her to work 2 days after giving birth among things!

I think they are fine to contact you about things like pensions or a special code etc. Not ok if they are expecting you to work half an hour a day

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 20-Nov-14 22:22:24

Or maybe they have a blank cheque they want filling?

I've worked with some idiots and seen some stuff but this is incredible.

TimeWarp Thu 20-Nov-14 22:24:18

Send an email from your private email address asking the person who phoned you to confirm the time and date of the disciplinary meeting. Otherwise they might just deny ever having made the phone call. They sound like arseholes (technical term).

Hopingforpeace Thu 20-Nov-14 22:26:33

They are a shower of shits. In comparison of my treatment whilst pregnant, this is pretty tame. sad
Hence the reason the union are gagging to use the portfolio of evidence against them and get constructive dismissal.
The union said to just bide my time whilst on maternity leave and just ignore them at the moment. We will deal with them in the new year.
Thank you for all the support. I thought this was the case but thought they couldn't be that stupid.
I'm looking forward to updating the union tomorrow. He will love this.
I'll update, hopefully about handing them their arses on a plate.

Essexgirlupnorth Thu 20-Nov-14 22:26:43

Completely unreasonable I checked mine occasionally in the first month, logged into let people know baby had arrived and then my password expired so didn't look at them till my first day back in the office.
Glad you have union support on this!

CurlyWurlyCake Thu 20-Nov-14 22:40:22

Sounds like you have good support. I agree you should get written confirmation of the disciplinary to add to your case.

Bonkers behaviour on their part.

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