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This feels so wrong - my job has gone whilst on mat leave

(25 Posts)
FusionChefGeoff Mon 27-Jul-15 16:53:46

I work in an advertising agency as a mid-level manager and when I went on maternity leave, they did not cover my role, just sort of chopped it up and dished it out around various people with the majority going up to the department Director.

The company has undergone lots changes since I've been off and they introduced a new role which is very similar to mine but at a higher level as it covers an additional team in another office. At my return to work meeting (after taking Additional Maternity Leave), they asked me to come back in client delivery (what I was doing 3 years ago, very stressful, client led, lots of weekend work and travel required, same salary but a definite step down in the organogram) and have basically said that my current role doesn't exist anymore.

I am very unhappy and feel that if I had been in the office, I would have had a chance to work with my employers on how to flex and change my role to fit with the changing needs of the business.

However, because I was not in the office, and because there was no-one covering my role (my department Director basically ignored all of the stuff that went up to him and just left everything and everyone run without management and without any support) they identified a gap and plugged it with the new role.

In my initial return to work meeting, I basically said that I wasn't expecting that as an 'offer' and that I also wanted to talk about reducing to part time hours which we all agreed is a terrible idea in client delivery so they said they would regroup now they knew I wanted reduced hours and get back to me.

I have a follow up call with HR and the Managing Director on Wednesday.

What are the key points I should be making if I am not happy with their 'counter offer'??

What else can I do?? This feels grossly unfair.

bamboostalks Mon 27-Jul-15 16:58:05

No advice I'm afraid but I read this article today which I think will resonate.

www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2015/jul/27/maternity-leave-discrimination-pregnant-then-screwed-stories

BikeRunSki Mon 27-Jul-15 17:12:58

The organisation I work for restructured when I was on ML and my job ceased to exist. Having an employee on ML can not prevent an organisation restructuring! I believe (and am happy to be corrected if I am wrong) that they do need to offer you a job at similar salary if you come back to work within 12 months. They also don't have to let you reduce your hours, although they do have to consider an application for reduced hours.,

I realise this sounds all doom and gloom, but probably best you know what the boundaries are.

FusionChefGeoff Mon 27-Jul-15 17:18:10

BikeRunSki - I know that they are allowed to restructure - but then surely I need to go through the same kind of consultation process that would have happened if I was in work? Ultimately then if I am unhappy with the alternative job, I should be able to take redundancy as this is effectively what has happened?

The new job is at the same salary but is lower in terms of the reporting lines and also very different in its demands of anti social hours etc. Does anyone know if I can argue that it is therefore not a 'similar' job?

FusionChefGeoff Mon 27-Jul-15 17:46:42

Oh God, bamboostalks, yes, Rachael's story is pretty much identical to mine and very depressing that she just kind of took it and therefore doesn't sound very positive that there's much point in me doing anything.

I really hope they come back with something else to think about on Weds although it sounds like they've made their minds up.

I really thought that the world had moved on a bit and that if you are entitled to take a break then it shouldn't impact on your rights when you return. Maybe not hey. sad

flowery Tue 28-Jul-15 07:32:26

If the hours are very different then it's not s suitable alternative, and you are right, if your job no longer exists, it ought to be a redundancy consultation, and if there is nothing suitable available then you should get redundancy pay.

However be careful- by saying you want different hours you are risking them feeling let off the hook a bit as you've indicated that you don't actually want a suitable alternative even if they had one.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 28-Jul-15 07:43:00

So Flowery should Fusion concentrate on that the offered job is a significant change to her terms and conditions without being specific which terms and conditions it is ie. the hours?

flowery Tue 28-Jul-15 18:49:14

No she needs to be specific. Ideally she would not have mentioned that she wanted part time hours and would first have forced her employer to either offer her something genuinely "suitable" (ie same terms and conditions and suitable for her skills/experience) or make her redundant, and then put in a flexible working request based on the new role if there was one.

I would suggest the OP dropping the discussion/any emphasis on her own desire to change her terms and conditions, and instead focusing on what the employer is obliged to do and how at present they are not meeting those obligations.

Littlef00t Tue 28-Jul-15 19:54:42

My role was made redundant whilst I was on mat leave. Work found me an alternative on the hours I wanted. I got the same trial period as anyone testing a new job through the redundancy process. they weren't happy with how it was working out so they offered me redundancy pay at full salary and I took the money and ran.

I can't see how they can say the alternative is similar enough with antisocial hours. You should be entitled to ft redundancy if they can't find you a suitable role.

Allhallowspeeve Tue 28-Jul-15 19:58:19

Go and get your free half hour advice from an employment solicitor.

I got completly screwed on my return work and ended up leaving. There is also a time limit you can complain in- I didn't realise that and watched ten years of service history go down the drain.

Be careful

Allhallowspeeve Tue 28-Jul-15 20:01:03

little that is really similar to me although I had to take a demotion then apply for new role when it came available (my old job!) the actually started me as a new starter shock

FusionChefGeoff Tue 28-Jul-15 21:08:13

Thank you so much. I will focus on the fact that the new role is not, in my eyes, similar to my old role. Genuinely, if I had to do my old hours, I have always said I would be willing to give it a go.

If they insist that the new role is the only one available, I'll ask for a copy of the job description so that I can see if they include weekend work and travel in it. What I am worried about is that the differences in hours are culturally assumed (and vital to satisfactory performance) rather than contractually set in stone.

I didn't know about a free 30 minutes - that is very useful thank you.

FusionChefGeoff Tue 28-Jul-15 21:08:32

Thank you so much. I will focus on the fact that the new role is not, in my eyes, similar to my old role. Genuinely, if I had to do my old hours, I have always said I would be willing to give it a go.

If they insist that the new role is the only one available, I'll ask for a copy of the job description so that I can see if they include weekend work and travel in it. What I am worried about is that the differences in hours are culturally assumed (and vital to satisfactory performance) rather than contractually set in stone.

I didn't know about a free 30 minutes - that is very useful thank you.

lucidlady Tue 28-Jul-15 22:14:52

The "free" 30 minutes isn't provided by all law firms - and you're unlikely to get material advice in that time. I'd start with ACAS.

DorisLessingsCat Tue 28-Jul-15 22:50:41

Yes, that "free 30 minutes" is a myth peddled regularly on Mumsnet. Some solicitors don't charge for initial consultations but you won't get enough information to act.

ACAS might give you some useful information.

FusionChefGeoff Tue 28-Jul-15 23:07:01

Aah OK - good point about 30 min rule as I wouldn't even know how to start finding a firm that may or may not offer it.

ACAS will be my first stop if the call tomorrow doesn't go well but I do need to be careful as I don't want to get too arsey too quickly as one potential option if I do have to leave could be freelance work in the industry so need to avoid a 'difficult' reputation.

Wish me luck and thank you for everyone who has taken time to help and advise me.

OllyBJolly Wed 29-Jul-15 08:53:55

Yes, that "free 30 minutes" is a myth peddled regularly on Mumsnet.

yes - Doris- very misleading. Nothing is free- especially not free legal advice. It worries me that it's mentioned regularly as something everyone is entitled to. It's largely a subtle sales tactic to tell you how serious and complicated your situation is so that you engage the lawyer for the case.

It might be well worth paying for proper advice from an employment lawyer. You have to be clear in what you want from this and an authoritatively worded legal letter might help you get it. A well spent £500 might protect your ongoing income.

The reporting lines is a difficult one - the change in hours is more clearcut. As Flowery says, focus on on the obligations of the employer, this is where they have gone wrong.

Glitteryarse Wed 29-Jul-15 10:11:13

I had free legal advice over the phone so it's not a myth at all. You just need to ring round and explain your situation.

Glitteryarse Wed 29-Jul-15 10:13:04

Plus olly I was under no obligation at all to take her on. She encouraged me to to go to a meeting I was due to attended and then get back to her if I needed her help, which I did.

OllyBJolly Wed 29-Jul-15 10:24:59

Plus olly I was under no obligation at all to take her on. She encouraged me to to go to a meeting I was due to attended and then get back to her if I needed her help, which I did.

Which you then paid for, so you bought. Sales tactic.

Glitteryarse Wed 29-Jul-15 10:43:34

olly I don't understand why your trying to pick a fight over it?

You can get free advice. Which I did. I could have walked away at any time and decide to take it on the chin but I didn't want to so I went back and got her help. She was very helpful and encouraged me to try and sort it out with work so I could continue to work at a place I loved. I felt I couldn't do that after the meeting so went back to her.

That's all there really was to it. Many msny people employ legal representatives to help them over this situation, it's notorious for women to get treated badly in return to work after ML.

flowery Wed 29-Jul-15 11:10:49

It absolutely is a myth that everyone is entitled to half an hour free legal advice, which is the impression many people give on here.

Yes it's perfectly possible that a solicitor might spend half an hour or so finding out about someone's situation, assessing whether there is any kind of case, and perhaps giving a steer, but that is a sales technique in order to build up a relationship and encourage those who do have a case to go on and instruct the solicitor, and not the half an hour free legal advice people imply everyone is somehow entitled to.

mrsplum2015 Thu 30-Jul-15 08:00:38

I am pretty sure that there is a difference if you take additional mat leave.

If you just take the basic time period of mat leave (is it called oml ?) , covered by smp, you have the right to walk back into the same job (and if it doesn't exist the usual restructuring process would apply).

However if you take the aml they are only obliged to offer you a similar job for the same salary.

Probably worth checking as if that's true they haven't done anything wrong and you might struggle to argue over the detail of how different the T&C of the new job are, esp if it's not in writing.

I would try to cooperate as at least they are currently making the right noises trying to negotiate over a part time role.

FusionChefGeoff Thu 30-Jul-15 08:42:23

MrsPlum - you are right that the obligations are different after AML (which is the situation I am in) and I agree that the big difficulty is that the main difference in T&C is not in writing. From a circumstantial point of view, I could provide evidence of hours worked by the proposed role (I have friends in the company who manage clients etc so they could tell me what they have done over the last 12 months) vs the number of weekends / nights I did in my old role. That would clearly show the difference.

The call didn't go well yesterday as they are sticking to their guns stating that it is a similar job just with a 'change in focus' so I am speaking to CAB later and DH has a friend in employment law who we will get in touch with.

Of course, the main difference between the roles is that one would work as a 3 day week and the other won't but that is by the by at the moment, as others have said.

FusionChefGeoff Tue 11-Aug-15 21:01:40

So after a couple more meetings still re-hashing the same old "it's the same job" "no it isn't" and one informal meeting where the Managing Director agreed that it would be very difficult to deliver effectively on a 4 day week, I have today received notification of possible redundancy.

Seriously?? Just as I am due to come back, they review the structure and my role is at risk of redundancy?? The real change in structure happened whilst I was off and the official email to the company then was at pains to emphasise that my role was still available to me to return to. But now that is actually happening, it has gone.

Surely this is a cack handed way to do me out of a job whilst on mat leave and I am desperately hoping there is something in place to help me?

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