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Grievance / maternity leave issue

(9 Posts)
OscarTango Wed 28-Jan-15 10:14:42

Background : I have a successful track record in my post with my current employer extending to over 4 years. I have never been given any negative feedback about my performance or behaviours and I have a good relationship with both internal and external colleagues. I have never had any HR issues, either in my current job or in previous posts.

However, recently I've been subjected to some pretty poor behaviour by a senior colleague - unfounded criticism of my work and undermining me in front of other colleagues without any context or explanation given. My attempts to establish some kind of dialogue around her concerns have been ignored. I feel that there may be something personal behind her behaviour, but I honestly have no clue what that might be. It's serious enough that it is having an impact on my wellbeing. My line manager has been no help in remedying this problem, and advocates a 'just ignore it' approach. However, I am concerned that this woman's treatment of me is beginning to have a negative impact on the way I am perceived by other members of the senior team. I work very hard, and my job - and my performance - is very important to me.

So I decided that I couldn't just ignore the problem any longer, and I raised a grievance last week. I didn't take this action lightly, and I went to great lengths to stress in my grievance paperwork that my objective was about resolution and progress, and taking action to remedy any concerns about my performance that this colleague has.

However, my grievance co-incided with the start of this woman's maternity leave. She will, technically, be away for a year, but she's a Director, and has made it clear that she will continue to attend important meetings and liaise with the senior management team during her leave period. In terms of my grievance though, I've received an unhelpful response from my line manager, effectively telling me that my grievance won't be heard until the end of the year, when the respondent's maternity leave is finished. I'm also detecting a very subtle change in attitude from the rest of the senior management team towards me since I raised my grievance - I think my professional collateral has been reduced by taking this action.

I'm now particularly confused and frustrated. I feel that my line manager's complete absence of any support with my initial attempts at resolution have pushed me into taking an action that might otherwise have been avoided, and one which has only served to worsen the situation. I also feel that I will now have this issue hanging over my head for the entire year, without being afforded any opportunity to address it.

I wonder if anyone has any advice that they might give to me? I'm assuming that, from a legal perspective, the organisation's stance is correct and that someone on maternity leave can't be made to answer a grievance? Can anyone suggest any other approach to getting this subject onto the table for discussion? Thanks.

GlitteryLipgloss Wed 28-Jan-15 13:03:01

Have you contacted ACAS?

OscarTango Wed 28-Jan-15 18:24:28

No, I haven't contacted ACAS. Is that something you would recommend?

Waffles80 Wed 28-Jan-15 22:31:32

I'm no expert, but yes, ACAS or your Union (if in one? If not, is there one you can join?).

It seems particularly unfair / odd to have to wait a year. Keep a diary of anything related to your issue / grievance.

OscarTango Thu 29-Jan-15 08:41:17

Thanks folks. I'm not in a union, but I've googled ACAS and see that they have a helpline, so I'll sit in the car at lunchtime and give it a call.

Much appreciated.

flowery Thu 29-Jan-15 09:29:34

You are entitled to have your grievance heard in a prompt timescale. This person wouldn't be involved in actually hearing the grievance so there's no reason at all the hearing can't go ahead.

It's not unheard of for a woman on maternity leave to be interviewed about a grievance, or disciplined, although obviously it's unusual. Whether it would be appropriate to do so depends on the situation, but at the very least, your grievance needs to be heard before they make that judgement.

Millerpup Fri 30-Jan-15 20:35:48

Your company procedures handbook should have documented in it somewhere what the process is for raising grievances and the time scale in which to receive a response.

A union will be unable to assist you on this one as you have to be a fully paid member for at least three months before they will support you. Three months at least before the date that you raised your grievance.
But if you think the outcome of this dispute may cause you problems in the future with your employer then it may be worth joining one now look on the TUC web pages for direction of which one to join no one need know and its a good form of insurance for the future.

baffledmum Mon 02-Feb-15 19:05:06

I had a grievance raised against me whileI was on maternity leave. I was telephoned and given the opportunity to put my side of events and then it was handled in absentia. I think it was more difficult for the person who had made the grievance but any manager worth their salt (in this case it's a director) would not want this hanging over you for a year. That's unprofessional and your HR department should be acting to get this heard in a reasonable timescale. Good luck.

TiredButFine Mon 02-Feb-15 22:37:12

Did you have no idea she was about to start maternity leave? I do think it's unreasonable to expect her to have to respond to your grievance whilst she is on maternity leave- if it was the other way round I'm sure you would resent calls or letters from HR to reply to a concern someone had raised against you.
As you have said your grievance was focussed on resolution and progress- how can that happen if she is off for a year?
I Appreciate that you have been having these issues for a year or so and your manager hasn't helped, but submitting a grievance as she goes off on maternity, and therefore unable to cause you any problems as she won't really be at work, could very much be seen as ill considered on your part. That may explain why there has been a change in attitude. It does not suggest younwant to sort things out, more that you want to drop her in it when she's not there.

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