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My job has been made 'unavailable' while on Mat leave

(46 Posts)
BlueGreenJumper Sun 17-Apr-16 21:23:17

NC for this but really need some advice please.

Been with my current employer 5 years and I'm now on Mat leave. I told them when I went off in Sept 2015 that I would be hoping to returning May 2016, which they were fine with and replaced me with a temporary employee. Since I have been on mat leave I have heard nothing from my line manager despite numerous company changes and redundancies. May is obviously fast approaching so a couple of weeks ago I contacted manager and asked to talk about returning to work. I was then told my role was no longer available! No more detail other than that, but from what I can understand they have given my work to someone else (my replacement quit a few weeks ago).

I have been offered to interview for another role in the company but it is role I really don't want. I'm struggling to get hold of anyone from HR but am going in next week to try and get this sorted. In the meantime I'm feeling really down - I feel like I'm so worthless to them that they can just get rid of my role like that, and not to tell me until I approached them is just a kick in the teeth.

So, what are my options here? If I don't get this new job what do I do? I feel like even if I do get offered it I have to take it even though I know I will hate it.

Sorry this was long!

QforCucumber Sun 17-Apr-16 21:28:04

They will either have to make you redundant and pay you a redundancy payout or offer you an alternative role - which I'm sure youre not supposed to interview for.

Baconyum Sun 17-Apr-16 21:31:19

www.gov.uk/employee-rights-when-on-leave

This is the official line but as we all know employers are notorious for getting around the rules. Get in touch with ACAS?

FireandBrimstone Sun 17-Apr-16 21:31:51

Not an expert - found this from ACAS which might be helpful http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/r/f/Managing-redundancy-for-pregnant-employees-or-those-on-maternity-leave-accessible-version.pdf

As pp has said, according to this you should not have to interview for any alternative post they may be offering you but a quick glance through the leaflet on the link above gives other clear info on steps your employer should have followed. Good luck, it sounds upsetting to be faced with this.

BlueGreenJumper Sun 17-Apr-16 21:32:53

Thanks Q - so it is considered redundancy then? Manager was very careful not to use that word and very, very vague about any details. Do I have to take the new job and if I decline it does that mean they don't have to pay me redundancy? I really don't want to leave but at the same time I don't want the role they are getting me to interview for, I know I will be miserable in it.

Kr1stina Sun 17-Apr-16 21:35:01

You really need some advice . AFAIK , redundancy during maternity leave is one of the very few times that you should benefit from positive discrimination

Groovee Sun 17-Apr-16 21:37:03

This happened to my friend. She was on maternity leave when they did away with her position. She ended up getting redeployed but it was a stressful time. I would seek legal advice on it to be sure.

notapizzaeater Sun 17-Apr-16 21:38:47

Is your job still there ? (Is someone else doing it ? )

SirNiallDementia Sun 17-Apr-16 21:59:32

You need to read up on redundancy and maternity rights ASAP. Have a look at the you gov website, ACAS or speak to your Trade Union (if you have one).

Arrange a meeting with your manager to discuss your return to work. Confirm everything in writing/ email from now on in case you need to make any claim in the future. This includes taking notes at meetings.

First thing to establish is what happened to the work/ tasks you were employed to do. There would only be a redundancy situation if the work you are employed to do is no longer required or has disappeared e.g. the company no longer carries out this type of work, they have lost a client you worked on etc.

Even if redundancy applies, there is a statutory (i.e. legal) process that must be followed. This involves consulting with you and you must offered a suitable alternative role if one exists in the company. You are not required to interview for this.

In the event that they have just given your tasks to someone else, you may wish to point out that you have a legal right to return to the job you carried out prior to starting Mat leave and to deny you the right to return to this job constitutes discrimination on the grounds of a protected characteristic (Maternity). You have the right to raise a grievance about this and to make a claim at Employment Tribunal.

I am an HR person and often if managers think they can get away with NOT following ACAS or statutory requirements they will. Get yourself clued up, start asking some pokey questions and remind your manager of their legal obligations re staff on maternity leave and/ or redundancy.

And think about whether you want to return to work there anyway. If not, this may now be the time to negotiate yourself a compromise agreement.

BlueGreenJumper Sun 17-Apr-16 22:01:31

Yes all my work that is defined in my role is 100% still there. It has just been given to someone else to do who could take it because she lost work when other people got made redundant (sorry to be vague, trying not to out myself). Works well for my manager as he saves money not having me but I just feel shoved out.

Thanks for those links, I had a little look on the internet but couldn't see anything specific to my sort of case. I guess because they aren't being very clear with me. I'm dreading going in and having this conversation with them, and I'm so pissed off they haven't made any contact with me at all. I feel if I didn't contact them they would have never asked me about coming back!

BlueGreenJumper Sun 17-Apr-16 22:06:01

X post there with you sir and thanks for your post, that's really interesting. So looks like it's not really redundancy as I know my work is still being done. Interesting what you say about everything in writing as I have actually been trying to get something written down from my manager over email and he won't. HR are the same. They said they couldn't speak last week and I asked them to email me exactly what the situation is but they refused. I guess they are all covering their backs. This is a very large company btw so I'm sure they know what they are doing and I have absolutely no idea.

AnotherEmma Sun 17-Apr-16 22:06:08

Maternity Action are the best for info and advice on this. See their website:
Redundancy during pregnancy and maternity leave
Advice line
Have a read and give them a call.

AnotherEmma Sun 17-Apr-16 22:11:38

Actually Citizens Advice are good on this too. Found this page on their website:
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/discrimination-at-work/common-situations/discrimination-at-work-redundancy-and-pregnancy/

I suggest you call Maternity Action or Citizens Advice.

It does seem to me that your employer is breaking the law (or attempting to), hence not giving you anything in writing! I think MA and/or CAB will suggest that you write to your employer pointing out your rights and requesting a formal meeting and/or information in writing. They may even be able to give you a template letter and/or advise on content.

MumUndone Sun 17-Apr-16 22:15:26

It does sound like they intend to make you redundant.

However, redistributing work amongst the team whilst someone is on maternity leave does not count as a valid reason for redundancy, so any dismissal would be deemed automatically unfair and you could raise a claim with an employment tribunal.

Also, you are legally entitled to be consulted with about the possibility of redundancy, so failure to consult is another potential claim.

Finally, the fact you are on maternity leave means you're extra protected, as failing to consult counts as discrimination too.

If it is a true redundancy (aside from the fact they have failed to consult thus far) then you are entitled to be offered any suitable redeployment without needing to apply or be interviewed.

If the redeployment is genuinely unsuitable then you can decline the position whilst retaining your right to redundancy pay. You are also entitled to a trial period in the new role, during which you retain your right to refundancy pay if you decide against remaining in the role.

If I were you, I'd ask for clarification from HR regarding whether or not they are putting you at risk of redundancy, point out your right to a consultation period, and also point out that redistributing work does not count as a valid reason for redundancy. See what they say!

BlueGreenJumper Sun 17-Apr-16 22:53:47

mum that's amazing advice. Thank you and everyone else. Feeling a bit more like I'm not just making a big deal out of nothing now. I'm going to put an email together tonight to them based on all of the above.
Thank you all again, I really appreciate it

CotswoldStrife Sun 17-Apr-16 23:06:48

Have you taken additional maternity leave or just ordinary maternity leave

www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1753
www.gov.uk/employee-rights-when-on-leave

OML - you should return to your previous role. AML - they can offer you a similar role.

The not putting anything in writing sound odd and I would continue to push them on that angry

SirNiallDementia Mon 18-Apr-16 09:47:28

If they are refusing to put anything in writing, make sure you email/ write to them at every step so you can prove they have failed to contact you and give you information when asked. You should write to them asking for a formal meeting to discuss your return to work.

If the tasks you were doing prior to going on MAT leave have been given to someone else, this is NOT a redundancy situation. Redundancy means the ROLE is redundant not the person.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Mon 18-Apr-16 09:51:17

I thought If you take more than 6 months the company is entitled to not keep your old job for you? They do have to redeploy you elsewhere though I would imagine.

AnotherEmma Mon 18-Apr-16 09:52:37

I suggest including a factual summary of events in your letter/email, including the phone calls and conversations that have taken place. eg on x date I spoke to x who said x. Just because they haven't put it in writing doesn't mean you can't!

flowery Mon 18-Apr-16 11:00:29

"redistributing work amongst the team whilst someone is on maternity leave does not count as a valid reason for redundancy"

I think that's a bit simplistic. It's certainly not unheard or, or necessarily unfair, for an employer to discover through having to cover maternity leave that they don't actually need the post any more.

It's not clear whether this situation may be a redundancy or not, and I think there are some assumptions being made. If you've been off on maternity leave for longer than 6 months, you are not entitled to your old job back automatically - if it is no longer reasonably practical to do that, you are entitled to a suitable job on no less favourable conditions. That's not a redundancy situation. If they are moving you to an alternative suitable job, they shouldn't normally be asking you to interview for it.

The issue here is that they are not being clear. Are they saying it's not reasonably practical for you to return to your exact post therefore it's a case of redeploying you to something suitable, or are they saying your post is redundant altogether and it's a case of seeing whether there is anything and otherwise making you redundant. And either way, what exactly is the purpose of the interview - is it because they are not sure whether the post in question is suitable for you or what, and what will happen if you either choose not to attend an interview, or if you attend and are not successful?

You need to write and get clarity on all those points.

MummyBex1985 Mon 18-Apr-16 12:10:05

Just to add to flowery sound advice above - it isn't enough for the company to say that they're placing you elsewhere because it isn't practicable to return. There is case law to support the position that it is maternity related discrimination to refuse to allow an employee to return to their role simply because they have elected to retain the maternity cover.

Time to get some legal advice, I think!

Zebrasinpyjamas Mon 18-Apr-16 12:22:25

Make notes of your attempts to Contact them and what they said. Details of times and who said what. I emailed them to myself so they where're "date stamped". But hand written is fine. This has been invaluable in my unfair dismissal claim after maternity leave.

BlueGreenJumper Sat 23-Apr-16 20:28:09

So I'm back again and need more advice please, am currently in limbo with all of this and don't know what to do

So I went in to work earlier this week and met with HR and line manager. I told them exactly how I felt and they were very apologetic. However the deliberately side stepped any detailed discussion on if my job has been made redundant or not. They confirmed that someone else who was already in the team is doing my work and will continue to do it. So my maternity cover has left, my work is still there but being done by someone else already employed (who had a drop in work due to company changes so can take the extra work) and my role is non existent now. Is this redundancy? I mean, if you look on an org chart, 6 months ago my role would be there and how it's not.

I met with the line manager for the other role and I just do not want to do it. While on paper it seems similar to my other role I will be bored out of my mind in it and there are no future progression prospects in it like my other role. I feel like I have to take it though as what other choice is there? What makes it worse is I would effectively be paying to go to work due to my salary and childcare costs (which I was prepared to do with old role as I loved my job and wanted to stay working) and to do this new job I know I would hate is getting me so down.

I'm so confused and feeling utterly shunted out. The fact that no one bothered to contact me as well is making me feel invisible to them.

AnotherEmma Sat 23-Apr-16 20:48:18

Have you had anything in writing yet?
If someone else is doing your role, it has not been made redundant.
You need to contact your local CAB and ask for an appointment - take all your paperwork with you (contract, letters, emails).

BlueGreenJumper Sun 24-Apr-16 07:08:07

No nothing in writing from them despite me emailing, only phone or face to face. I'm considering just handing my notice in to be honest, I'm so fed up

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