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employer not keeping me up to date with restructure opportunities whilst on maternity leave

(12 Posts)
pastabest Thu 13-Apr-17 06:04:37

Currently on maternity leave.

By the time I return my role will have been restructured. My employer has failed to contact me regarding reapplying for my role in the new structure. If a colleague hadn't contacted me informally with 24 hours until the deadline was up I wouldn't have been aware and would have missed the deadline.

I emailed HR to highlight my concerns who said it wasn't their problem as the restructure was being handled by a dedicated team elsewhere in the organisation. This team have taken no responsibility for the fact they didn't contact me and have tried to blame my direct manager for not passing the information on (absolutely not my manager's fault, they knew nothing about it)

There are more people than there are jobs in the new structure in the area I am currently employed in, so it will be going to an interview situation. People least successful at interview will be slotted into roles on the same grade in another area so it wont be a redundancy situation but the 'other area' would be completely impossible for me to travel to, both practically and financially.

Can I be asked to attend a competitive interview whilst on maternity leave? Its a fast moving role and although I have tried to keep up with updates as best as possible whilst have been away (which has only been a few weeks) there is no way I will be as up to speed as my colleagues who I would be competing against. I am also extremely sleep deprived.

If they don't make me go for a competitive interview but instead offer me one of the roles in the other area I cannot realistically take it, (it would involve a 2 hour commute each way daily, no public transport and on very rural roads - the fuel alone would virtually mean I was out of pocket by going into work) could this then be seen as constructive dismissal if I don't accept it?

Just needing some advice of what I need to do/ who to contact/ what to keep a log of at this point. I'm feeling extremely vulnerable. I am a member of my professional union but they seem to be more about supporting with professional practice issues rather than employment issues.

SuffolkingGrand Thu 13-Apr-17 06:53:30

This is pretty complicated but basically they are treating you differently in a potential redundancy situation because of your maternity which probably amounts to maternity discrimination which is of course highly unlawful. It not enough for them to pass the buck and say that another team is dealing with it. You need initially to lodge a formal grievance about the way in which you have been treated.

You need to contact a solicitor urgently to find out what needs to happen next. Make sure you document everything including all emails, phone calls, conversations etc including what was said, by whom, when and details of any witnesses. Any phone calls, follow up with an email to confirm what was discussed. Send a copy of all work emails on the subject to your home email address.

Please be aware that you only have three months minus one day to start proceedings in an Employment Tribunal so you need to act fast.

Contact Pregnant Then Screwed or Maternity Action for more advice on where to go from here. PtS can put you in touch with a lawyer for some free initial advice.

Also check your home or car insurance for legal cover as often this is an extra on insurance policies and they can in certain circumstances (like if there is a more than 50% chance of success) cover your legal costs for instructing a solicitor to represent you a Tribunal.

How do I know all this? Happened to me too. Sending strength and cake and gin

Let us know what happens!

daisychain01 Thu 13-Apr-17 15:55:15

I'd focus on the discriminatory aspects, as you have objective proof of what they haven't done, i.e. Kept you fully involved in the process and updated about the ongoing changes and decisions being taken in the business during Mat leave. There was a lot of "passing the buck".

Your line manager should have taken the lead on all that, they have overall accountability to serve your best interests, no matter who else was also involved.

I'd also consider taking issue with HR. You did exactly the right thing highlighting your concerns, they were negligent in their duty of care to ensure your concerns were fully addressed.

pastabest Sat 15-Apr-17 01:23:43

Many thanks both.

The problem is that yes my line manager should be taking the lead, but unless they develop psychic skills that's pretty difficult for them to do when they know nothing about it.

The people on my pay grade were emailed directly to their company emails to tell them to reapply for their jobs within the same week. Our direct managers were not formally informed that this process was occurring, although most became aware of it informally from the effected staff members telling them. There was no information about it uploaded to the company intranet. Even if my manager had been made aware they were on leave that week and wouldn't have been able to inform me any way by the deadline.

I've pointed all of this out to the team dealing with the restructure but they keep blaming my manager rather that taking any responsibility for the fact that there was no way my manager could have possible known they needed to contact me. They made no attempt to follow up my out of office stating I am on maternity leave and to forward anything important to my line manager. The deadline of 5 working days to remind was tight even for those who were in work and full time. I have no confidence that the same thing won't happen again e.g if/when interviews come up. The current system basically seems to rely on my manager being able to mind read what another team is doing.

What's the deal with being asked to go for a competitive interview whilst on Mat Leave? I have an EBF baby who doesn't let me out of her sight for more than about 45 minutes at the moment, but irrespective of that I'm pretty much guaranteed to fail in comparison to colleagues that are up to speed with the vast changes that are taking place daily.

pastabest Sat 15-Apr-17 01:25:12

*remind - apply

daisychain01 Sat 15-Apr-17 03:44:55

This whole situation as you describe it is unacceptable.

Honestly I would not let your manager or HR off the hook, don't make excuses for any of them. As you are on Mat leave the officers of the company are duty bound by law not to put you in a position of disadvantage compared to your colleagues. The fact you are many steps removed means you are unable to keep up with the situation.

If you are in a Union, I would contact them immediately and seek their advice and input to represent you to the company.

Please, don't delay in writing down a detailed timeline of dates, times and what you have been told, plus what you have had to find out by chasing around (this is the key part, to show you had to do all that while on Mat leave.)

They will try to rewrite history, so you need all the key facts.

Bluntness100 Sat 15-Apr-17 04:19:30

They can't stop the changes because you are off. They can't guarantee you the job you wish because you are off. That's positive discrimination and it's illegal. You will either need to go for the interview or take your chance on where they slot you.

As for where they slot you you need to look st your contract of employment to see what they can and cannot do.

No they cannot force you to go to an interview whilst on leave, but what they do with your job is the same for every other employee and I'd based on your contract of employment. You do not have more rights than your colleagues as you are off, sorry.

daisychain01 Sat 15-Apr-17 04:27:41

Pastabest is not demanding favours, but she does deserve to be on a level playing field, and her posts do not indicate to me that she is being given that fair treatment.

Given there are rapid changes in the workplace at the moment and aggressive timelines are being imposed, she is set up for failure having to prepare for interview with only days notice and having to piece together what is going on, when she is EBF and looking after a newborn baby. HR should be giving her a lifeline, to support her, and all they are doing is passing the buck, as is management. That is not acceptable.

Bluntness100 Sat 15-Apr-17 04:28:27

I should add your interview should be on your return, but you need to follow the exact same process as your colleagues. Your interview and your placement should be on your return.

I had an employee who tried to claim as she was on maternity leave she should not be impacted by changes, her supervisor supported her, even saying to me "we are all women blunt" . The reality was she had the same rights as her colleagues, no more no less and I could do nothing to favour her.

It's your call on whether you wish to go now to interview or on your return, and yes they may make the decision on where to place you before it and not admit that and it would be hard to prove, however ultimately it's your contract of employment that stands.

evensmilingmakesmyfacehurt Sat 15-Apr-17 04:29:12

https://www.maternityaction.org.uk/advice-2/mums-dads-scenarios/pregnant/redundancy-during-pregnancy-and-maternity-leave/

Maternity Action has some good advice here.

Your manager and your HR have a duty to contact you though and make you aware of the situation. They sound like they are trying to fob you off blaming the other team.

Play by the rules and you may have a case of unfair dismissal on your hands if things don't improve or you don't end up with another role just because you have been on leave.

Parker231 Sat 15-Apr-17 05:13:43

www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/r/f/Managing-redundancy-for-pregnant-employees-or-those-on-maternity-leave-accessible-version.pdf

This might help - basically when returning from maternity you have a right to return to your original role or if due to a restructure that role is no longer there, you get preferential rights to a suitable alternative role.

Crisscrosscranky Sun 16-Apr-17 16:48:20

@Bluntness100 that's bad advice. As a woman on maternity leave the OP has a legal right to 'slot in' to suitable alternative employment without having to submit to a selection process. This is covered in the Maternity regs and failure to adhere to this could lead to the OP having a case for unfair dismissal due to discrimination (maternity- direct and indirect sex discrimination).

OP- if the role is suitable alternative employment you should be given 'first dibs' to accept it. If it's not suitable alternative employment (i.e a completely different role) then it's fair to ask you to attend a selection process.

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