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Somebody hired permanently to cover my maternity leave, and on higher salary!(18 Posts)
So it was my last day at work yesterday and my area manager dropped a bombshell on me that she has hired somebody permenantly to cover my role. When I pointed out I will be back in 9 months she simply replied 'you might not want to come back, or you might struggle for childcare'. (I have never given her any indication that I may not come back or that childcare will be a problem) I was too gobsmacked to ask anything more. Is this allowed? I'm a store manager so there is no way we could both do the same job when I return, the only options I can see is if one of us was demoted to deputy manager, or one of us relocated to another store.
It's also peeved me off that I've found my role advertised on a job board and the salary is £3k a year more than mine! I know this is sometimes justified for temporary contracts but this is definitely advertised as permanent, same hours and duties.
So I'm just wondering where I stand? I don't know what my rights are and I don't know whether I need to raise the issue now or when I return.
Your area manager has handle the situation badly, because she has put doubt in your mind just when you are going on maternity leave.
Fact is, when you return to work after your agreed mat leave, you cannot be 'demoted' as such. It could be that the extra 3K for the new person is because they have different/ more responsibilities to you in your current role. Impossible for you to know.
Yy to seeking further info from HR, and make a note of what they tell you. Also make a note of conversations like she simply replied 'you might not want to come back, or you might struggle for childcare'.
Meanwhile, if I were you, I would head off on your mat leave and not spend time worrying about what is happening in the workplace in your absence. You have protection in law, so if you return and find yourself reporting to the new person because they have been permanently recruited into your role ever after you are back from ML then I would contact ACAS at that time.
Btw I wasn't being dismissive of your anxiety, I just want to give you reassurance so you don't stress when you need to focus your attention on your new baby
Thank you for your reply. I think I will write to HR early next week to express my concerns and ask for written confirmation of the role I can expect to return to after my ML. I will also mention area managers response to my question. Would you advise leaving any mention about salary out of my initial enquiry?
I am going to put it to the back of my mind and enjoy maternity leave, but don't want to leave it too late to express my concerns as I don't want to give the impression I'm trying it on if I don't mention anything until I return.
Hayls you are doing the right thing addressing your concerns with HR as you described.
I dont think you should mention salary because it could cloud the issue. Your priority is to gain reassurance that you will return to work at the same level of seniority and not be prejudiced because of taking ML. It will give the company a clear message you take your role seriously. I dont like your manager's assumptions so hopefully HR can have a stiff word!
I also don't know whether to mention the following - like you said I don't want to cloud the issue or sound like I'm just having a massive moan. Not long after I informed her of my pregnancy we had an informal discussion about the company as it has recently undergone a shift in area boundaries due to expansion. She told me there was an opening for a branch manager in the area to do a course to be a HR advisor for the area (in addition to my current role) and she would have put me forward for it if I hadn't been pregnant. I challenged her at the time about this and she said it wasn't worth putting me on the course in case I didn't return after maternity leave. I assured her I would be returning and she agreed verbally to send me on the course and said it would be the start of the new year. This was the last I heard. It hasn't been advertised internally so I have no idea if somebody else is doing the role or not. All this was discussed either face to face or over the phone so I don't have any evidence it took place. It really pissed me off and again she has made assumptions about my situation which she shouldn't have done. I don't know whether to include - it might strengthen my arguament but then again it might just make me seem like a moaner.
As you are intending to be taking more than the 6 month 'ordinary' maternity leave then they may be planning to offer you a role that is different to your original one, the new job needs to have similar terms and conditions but if you say there are other branches then maybe they are thinking of offering you a role elsewhere. They are only meant to over you a different role if giving you your old one is “not reasonably practicable” but in your situation I would be getting advice form your union or ACAS.
The post about them not offering you opportunities because of your pregnancy sounds like they are directly breaking the law to me but again, you would need proper expert advice.
Time limits for bringing claims to the employment tribunal are very short (ie. would have expired by the time of your return- 3 months less one day from the act complained of / last in a series with a standstill period of usually 28 days for acas mandatory conciliation). I realise it's a faff to contact acas now and to triage it upwards but if you don't you could find yourself time barred when you try to return to your old job. Here is a link with a number for advice from ehrc and the acas website
I was intending to take no more than 39 weeks. I wrote to HR and said I would take a maximum of 39 weeks but hoped to return sooner. They set my return date to 39 weeks but said I could return earlier if I informed them with 8 weeks notice. I told my area manager both formally and informally the same - that I would be taking between 26 and 39 weeks. However if my job was under threat I would definitely return at 26 weeks - there was never any discussion about my job being advertised either internally or externally and a colleague has been training to take over on a temporary basis while I'm off. So although I was aware that technically after OML they could offer me a different role, I didn't think that would ever happen. In fact the colleague who is supposedly doing my role has no idea about this as my area manager dropped it on me yesterday and asked me not to tell her!
She told me there was an opening for a branch manager in the area to do a course to be a HR advisor for the area (in addition to my current role) and she would have put me forward for it if I hadn't been pregnant. I challenged her at the time about this and she said it wasn't worth putting me on the course in case I didn't return after maternity leave
OK this I would capture in your correspondence to HR, but do it in a non-confrontational way to preserve relations with your LM. Just reconfirm the interest you already showed your LM in the opportunity and seek confirmation that, on return from ML, that you will be able to attend the course. If the only reason you were denied the opportunity was due to maternity, then that is discrimination. If you highlight it to HR they may be able to intervene and give your LM some training, as it really sounds like she is clueless about Maternity Rights!
Blueobsession, it could be jumping the gun to lodge at tribunal. They will want to know the OP has taken reasonable steps to raise her concerns first, in-house, and that there is adequate proof of discrimination.
I think it's borderline at the moment...HR need to have a 'how many beans make five' conversation with the LM. Hayls needs to capture her concerns in writing, which should focus their attention!
The LM could have said "when you return from ML let's look at your development together and decide at that time if you want to be considered for the training course, as I believe you have the capability to do the HR role"
Thank you for the advice everyone, it's much appreciated. I will be writing a letter to HR this weekend.
And to be honest I'm not that bothered about escalating it any higher than my own company at the moment, if I can make HR aware that my LM is obviously a bit clueless in this area (and hopefully she gets a bit of a bollocking!) and I get assurances on my future role in the company then that's fine by me.
I thought oml had increased to 9 months? Or is that just the pay?
That sounds very worrying indeed. If you are in a Union then get advice from them before doing anything. And that statement 'if you hadn't been pregnant' certainly sounds like discrimination.
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