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My maternity leave cover seems to have taken my job...

(9 Posts)
auserlessknown Tue 03-Jan-17 14:43:00

I need a bit of advice on returning to work after being off on maternity leave for 52 weeks. I have asked to go back 3 days a week and this has been agreed with my employer.

While I was away my work was re-distributed amongst people in both my own team (more minor tasks) and another team (what I would consider the main part of my job), with a maternity cover being recruited and placed into the other team. When I spoke to my boss it seems that there is no plan to return my main tasks to me and that they will stay with the other team and my maternity cover. In particular, an event is planned a few weeks after I return which is specifically mentioned in my job description as being my responsibility. It's a once every few years event and I was working on it prior to going on leave so would have expected to at least share responsibility for it with my maternity cover. Instead I am told that my maternity cover will take full responsibility and I can go along to watch.

The minor tasks I have to do are not quite as senior in nature, and also are not likely to fill 3 days per week, more like 1 day or less, so I don't think that my going part time is a good enough excuse for not giving at least some of my main tasks back. I did mention this to my boss and he said that he doesn't want to put too much pressure on me when I am first back. He said that I could at first provide "help and support" to my maternity cover. Then in a few months, after the important event has taken place and everything been tidied up afterwards, I might have the rest of my job back or maybe be given some other tasks. Is it just me or is this really not on?

I don't mind if for operational reasons they want to give me a totally different job at the same level of seniority on my return but I don't want to end up being my maternity cover's skivvy for a few months!! That will piss me right off!

Does anyone have any advice, in particular about how soon I could be expecting to get my job back, would you expect a long handover period? Is it unreasonable to expect to be responsible for an event after being away for a year? I've worked on it for 18 months and my mat leave for 6 months (with a gap while nothing happened). So it's not like I'm completely out of touch even though they have worked on it more recently. I've offered to go for KIT days but not had any response from them.

Can they give me a different job (given that the old job is still actually there) and should I push for that or should I try and get my old job back? There are lots of other roles there and quite a few of them I'd be happy to do.

PS posting in a new account as don't want this post to be at all traceable...

sniffle12 Wed 04-Jan-17 01:00:17

A similar question has been asked and answered by an HR expert here if useful it seems:

www.workingmums.co.uk/advice-and-support/role-changed-on-maternity-leave-ask-the-expert/

auserlessknown Wed 04-Jan-17 12:45:19

Thanks for writing back...

Part of the issue is that there is no proposal to change my job description formally, if it were changed formally it would go through a review process to see what level the "new role" is at. As this isn't proposed to happen I have no certainty that without being given back my main tasks I am still going to be working at the same level.

I also think that assisting someone else in tasks I was previously responsible for cannot be returning to the same level as I was at before going on mat leave. confused

flowery Wed 04-Jan-17 16:21:04

You need more clarity about what your role will consist of when the hours are reduced. Presumably when you requested to go down to 3 days a week you included a proposal about how you felt the entire role could be done in 3 days? Was that not discussed at the time? It sounds as though saying your employer have agreed to 3 days a week is a bit premature, if it's not clear to you on what basis that agreement is being given.

There's nothing wrong with them saying you can do 3 days a week, and the role will be responsible for xyz tasks. Then if that means giving up the more senior bit you prefer, and you didn't want to do that, you could reject that offer and instead opt to return to your role as was, ie the same responsibilities and on a full time basis.

They must offer you the same job (or a suitable one) on the same terms and conditions, but if you want to reduce your hours that requirement no longer exists, because you are the one saying you want to change your terms and conditions.

How long is it until you are due back?

RB68 Wed 04-Jan-17 16:36:03

I would contact ACAS for advice and be prepared to get stroppy

auserlessknown Thu 05-Jan-17 18:28:47

Well no flowery we haven't really discussed the role reduction, as when I initially brought it up my manager said that would be fine as generally there is less work to do now than when I went on maternity leave. Then these issues arose later. When I go back initially (in March) I will be working full time for three months with two days a week annual leave. Then I will move to a part time contract after that. So I guess they could change my terms and conditions at that point but not before? It's interesting that a flexible working request would negate my rights to return to a similar job - I hadn't heard that before and it isn't something that is mentioned in our flexible working policy.

I agree there's nothing wrong with them saying for 3 days a week I can do xyz tasks but I think if they are paying me on the same grade they probably need to give me a similar level of seniority otherwise I could be at risk of a downgrade. That's from my point of view anyway! I'd think if they are changing my job through they should update the job description?

It might all be moot anyway as when I had a chat with my bosses boss about something else I mentioned this issue and he said that I absolutely would be getting my job back. So it might just be that my boss isn't very senior and hasn't dealt with a maternity leave before.

Thanks for pointing me in the direction of ACAS RB68, I hadn't actually heard of them but they might be more able to provide full on advice if I do need it.

OohNoDooEy Thu 05-Jan-17 18:35:05

I think that if you take more than 26 weeks that they only have to offer a job rather than your job.

AstridLevinson Sat 07-Jan-17 17:53:42

Am in similar position- should I start separate thread? My post is being covered by colleague from another office, It's been intimated that she wants to swap jobs- same role different location, can this be done if I don't agree to it? Team manager has already said to me my contract is with employer and says that moves can be made if it fits business needs.

auserlessknown Mon 09-Jan-17 09:10:27

Sorry to hear you're also having problems Astrid. I tried giving ACAS a call but the person I spoke to could only really repeat what can be found quite easily in an internet search - they didn't seem to be able to answer more specific questions. You might have more luck though, it is worth a go!

I do know from my research that it although they can move you to a different role for business reasons, that reason cannot be that your maternity cover is going to carry on doing your original role. What does your contract say about your location? Normally it states where you are based and I think if it does moving you would be a change to your terms and conditions.

Of course, the main problem is not knowing what your rights are but getting your work to acknowledge and accept them without having to resort to formal processes.

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