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Facing demotion upon coming back from maternity leave: can I still go back to maternity leave?

(12 Posts)
strongandsteady Wed 31-Aug-16 11:02:20

Hi there,

Hope you can help me as I'm struggling to understand what's legal and where do I stand on it.

So the facts are:

- worked for the company 5 years
- worked 2 last years as general manager
- been on maternity leave 8 months
- gave 28 days notice for extension of maternity leave (2 extra months) after 6 months
- before going on maternity I confirmed that I'm coming back full-time BUT in different capacity (mistake, i know)
- have a proven track record of achievements - performance reviews and bonuses given
- no disciplinary hearings etc.

Now, the company's new director met with me two weeks ago and said that I will be given a new role and will be looking after a particular part of the business. He didn't mention the name or money. Last night I got an email confirming the LOWEST position (with additional responsibilities to oversee others) and 10K cut of my salary.
I'm hurt, angry and sad.

My first wish is to stay on maternity and do not come back - can I still do it? Taking into consideration that I've missed (or been forced to miss) the deadline for my notice?

Also, is it an unfair demotion? If so can I challenge the company to offer me a more superior FULL-TIME position (to meet my experience and skills) and different salary?

Its it worth going legal (lawyer or union) in my situation?

Thank you very much for your answers.

flowery Wed 31-Aug-16 13:11:53

"before going on maternity I confirmed that I'm coming back full-time BUT in different capacity (mistake, i know)"

What does this mean exactly?

"Also, is it an unfair demotion? If so can I challenge the company to offer me a more superior FULL-TIME position (to meet my experience and skills) and different salary?"

Is there another suitable alternative vacancy available that you think they are withholding then?

Also - what has happened to your original role- what reason have you been given as to why you can't return to that?

If your original role is redundant, have you been through a proper process, and is redundancy pay the alternative to accepting this lower-paid position?

CakeByTheOcean Wed 31-Aug-16 13:20:40

If you can afford it I would definitely take legal advice.

strongandsteady Thu 01-Sep-16 10:20:09

hey flowery,

thank you for takin your time to respond.

so when I was going on maternity leave I have been asked if I would like to come back as a general manager or in a different role. I weighted things thoroughly and decided not to come back as a general manager knowing that it will be extremely difficult to run the business with a small kid. I've been assured that upon my return I will be offered a different role that will meet my skills and professional experience. We didn't discuss financials.

so I officially confirmed (wrote an email to HR) that I give up my role. Its been given to my former assistant who is currently running the show.

i work for a growing business and there are plenty of areas that need attention. in the last 6 months they created 3 new roles to accommodate this growth.

thank u very much.

flowery Thu 01-Sep-16 14:47:09

In circumstances where you've voluntarily given up your role without confirmation of an alternative or confirmation that your salary level will be protected I can't see you're going to get very far arguing that it's a forced demotion to be honest. I'm sure you realise that now, but that was an extremely foolish thing to do.

What you are entitled to is your own role back, or a suitable alternative on no less favourable terms and conditions.

You have opted not to take your own role back and are therefore a bit at their mercy as to what they can find for you.

Do you think the role they are offering you should be at a higher salary level than it is? Are other people being paid more for similar? Are they offering below market rate for the role?

One thing you could consider doing is trying to retract the voluntary giving up of your role on the basis that your understanding was that you'd be offered something suitable at the same salary level, and stating that you therefore do in fact want your job back.

strongandsteady Thu 01-Sep-16 16:05:59

Hi flowery,

Thank you for that. I think you've confirmed my biggest worries and that I've been rather naive.

However, one thing is still not clear to me - can I prolong my maternity leave at this stage?

Thank you.

flowery Thu 01-Sep-16 17:45:50

You can change your return date from maternity leave with 8 weeks' notice. You mentioned you only gave 28 days' notice last time, so they may accept 28 days this time, although they don't have to.

if you give notice that you want to change your return date, but don't give enough notice to do so, they can make you come into work for the difference. So if you are due to return in 2 weeks, say, and give notice now that you want to change your return date to the full year, they could make you come in and work until the 8 weeks' notice is up, ie return to work for 6 weeks.

In reality, most employers wouldn't bother, so it's worth a try.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Thu 01-Sep-16 21:39:39

Flowery, does it make a difference if the OP is off for longer than 6 months?

My sister is in a similar position although she hasn't given up her role as this OP did, she's been told as she is taking longer than 6 months she has to take a different role on her return.

flowery Thu 01-Sep-16 21:52:08

Yes. If a woman returns within or at the end of the first six months, she is entitled to her job back. if she returns later than that, she is entitled to her job back, or, if giving her her job back is not reasonably practicable, she is entitled to a suitable job on no less favourable terms and conditions.

If your sister is being told she needs to take a different role, I would expect her employer to be able to explain why she cannot have her original role, and the new role needs to be on no less favourable terms and needs to be suitable for her skills and experience.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Thu 01-Sep-16 22:19:14

Ok thanks Flowery, that's useful.

strongandsteady Fri 02-Sep-16 10:03:49

Thank you flowery. I will keep that in mind. I guess at this stage I will need to be reasonable and consider all options. I think it's a good idea to suggest to my employer as well to explain why they are giving me this role.

strongandsteady Mon 05-Sep-16 12:47:42

hey flowery,

Just wanted to tell you that I had meeting with HR and it was made clear that company can not offer me any alternative.
And in case of maternity leave extension ayou predicted they won't want me to comeback for a few weeks (notice period difference).

Unfortunately, they couldn't answer my question about holidays.
I'm entitled to 20 days holidays as per my latest contract. In case if I extend my maternity will I get paid for them? And if so - how? Per my that contract (but I no longer hold the position) or somehow else?

Any insight would be useful.

Thank you.

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