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Maternity discrimination and constructive dismissal

(42 Posts)
Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 21:15:28

Hi all wondering if any one has some friendly advice .
I’ve had an ongoing issue with my employer after going on maternity leave .
I was trying to return to work after 3 months maternity leave however my employer made changes to my job , inline with my contract however not inline with what I’d been doing previous to my maternity leave .
I’ve now registered an employment Tribunal but feel completely out of depth , and have regular bullying emails from the companies solicitor.
Does anyone know where I can get some free or cheep legal advise . I don’t qualify for legal aid as I received my holiday pay at the end of September , also my local cab free lawyer is unable to offer support due to a conflict of interest

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frecklefox Mon 08-Oct-18 21:16:53

Have you spoken to ACAS yet?

Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 21:24:45

Hi yes I have but they tell me I need legal advice which they don’t give - obviously there’s a lot of information to go with the original post I just didn’t want to bore everyone with my drama x

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flowery Mon 08-Oct-18 22:32:40

Many employment (and other) lawyers will offer a free initial consultation which will involve an assessment of the strength of your case. Maybe find a local employment lawyer and see if that’s a possibility?

Alternatively many people have legal cover as part of their house insurance, often without realising- have you checked that?

SemperIdem Mon 08-Oct-18 22:34:39

What is the issue with the changes, for context?

Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 22:36:25

Hi flowery I have checked all insurance ect how ever I have no legal expenseses cover , I have spoke to few local lawyers but have all wait it will cost around 400-700 to properly review the case

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Wheresthel1ght Mon 08-Oct-18 22:39:41

can you contact an alternative CAB centre or see if you have a local law centre nearby who can help?

Languageofkindness Mon 08-Oct-18 22:43:31

It’s hard to really know from your post but I think if they made changes in line with your contract then they would be entitled to do so. I guess you have to think what you really want to get out of any legal action given the stress it will cause and the expense. You’d need to feel you had a water tight case and it’s hard to tell from your post.

Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 22:44:20

The main issues ahi semperldem the main issues are a change in working hours , more flexible and more unsociable hours and all a change to community based instead of office based - basically a informal demotion , keeping me on my same rate of pay as prior to maternity but requiring me to work more hours - it’s complex but basically if your paid say 4 hours community based you would generally be in work around 6 hours .
Wheresthel1ght - I did contact another cab however they said they’re telephone back but never have

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Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 22:45:12

Sorry in regards to a law centre I don’t think there is one any where close by

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FusionChefGeoff Mon 08-Oct-18 22:46:09

I thought the terms of your job had to remain the same not just pay? How are they allowed to make such big changes?

Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 22:48:09

Language of kindness I do believe I have good grounds however I guess everyone does ultimately I’d like an apology and for the company to think twice before they treat others the way they have me the impact on my maternity leave has been horrendous I’ve spent the majority of it worrying about how I can possibly get back into work and support my family

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FusionChefGeoff Mon 08-Oct-18 22:48:37

Surely if the job has changed so much, they've effectively made your role redundant and created a new one?

When I was in a similar position, I used an HR specialist consultant who was much cheaper than a lawyer but was very knowledgeable and got me a great settlement deal without needing tribunal etc. Try googling to see if there's anyone like that near you?

VTechnophobe Mon 08-Oct-18 22:49:24

Contact Pregnant Then Screwed pregnantthenscrewed.com

Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 22:50:28

Fushion chef George this is my belief also and the grounds I’m using for maternity discrimination however they’re stating it’s inline with contractual duties but I’m holding firm on the written contract being replaced by custom and practice

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Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 22:52:11

Thank you for the hr specialist didn’t think of that I shall look into it tomorrow

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Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 22:52:44

Vtechnophobe thank you for the link they look like they could be very helpful

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LuluJakey1 Mon 08-Oct-18 22:58:32

There was a court case about maternity leave and employment recently that became a bit of a key case. Unfortunately I can't recall the name of it.

There is some stuff here you might find useful
www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/managing-pregnancy-and-maternity-workplace/help-and-support-employees/faqs-employees/during-4

Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 23:01:39

Thank you lulujakey1 .
I have been trying to find some case law but struggling to relate to my situation- luckily I done level 3 law at collage so have a basic understanding but definitely in way over my head Now

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Ems8818 Mon 08-Oct-18 23:31:16

For anyone interested this is the timeline of events

I was employed by on 4th may 2016 on a 40 hour contract as team leader of the area on interview I explained that I was unable to commit to unsociable hours due to being a single parent and that I would only provid care with in the community as last resort , this was agreed and the job offered to
myself . On induction I completed an availably sheet reflecting this.
In September 2016 agreed to allow me to work 24 hours over 3 days , 9am to 17.00pm - Wednesday Thursday Friday with me being unavailable on a Monday or Tuesday due to me returning to university. This was verbally agreed and between this date and roughly July 2017 I worked these days .
In July 2017 I informed that I was pregnant, I suggested and my line manager agree that I would move my usual days off inline with my maternity appointments thus ensuring I was working 3 days a week and also for me to keep relationships positive to limit the company viewing my pregnancy as a burdon resulting in them not having to pay me to attend any antenatal appointments.This again was agreed verbally.
Before commencing maternity leave I verbally informed on many occasion that id be back in work by September if not before due to the decrease in finances whilst on Smp I was reassured that I would only have to say when ready to return . This demonstrates the level of trust and respect between myself and the company prior to maternity leave.
Around the 21st of April I was informed by an ex employee that had promoted a team leader to deputy manager and refilled the team leader for (different area to mind )post. I was surprised that within such a short time period this change had come about as there was no discussion around promotions becoming available prior to 1st April the date I went on maternity leave . Company also failed to inform me of this company restructuring, which I feel is less favourable treatment due to maternity leave .
On the 29th June I left a note at the office to Line manager requesting I return to work one day a week to use my kit days and return to work ASAP .
On the 11 July whilst on holiday with my family which Line manager was aware of I received an email stating there where no office hours available and was offered to work community based , I declined community working as not family friendly and requesting a meeting to discuss this . I was very distressed to here there where no office hours available as this was my job prior to maternity leave.
I finally received a response to my request for a meeting to discuss on the 17th July inviting me to a meeting on 24th July . These three weeks where very stressful and upsetting as I was growing increasingly concerned about my employment.
On the 24th July I attended a meeting and was told there was unsurity of my jobs future but would know later that day when business manager return from a meeting. I was also told my job expectations had changed if the position remained and that it now required me to work community based and more unsociable hours . I explained this was not possible before I had my baby and was now impossible. I was also informed that I must provide 8 weeks notice to return so would be unable to return in till 1st October 2018. As can be expected I was very distressed at this meeting being the sole Carer of four children and already struggling financially. I was also very vulnerable and naive as I trusted in what I was being told by both (line manager) and (Human Resources) and did not think to check the dates they where giving me . I was still very naive in the situation and believed that the trust and respect was as it was prior to my maternity leave .I was reassured I would be updated on the future of my job by the end of the week .
Between these dates I rung numerous times asking for updates and none have been availableas this situation dragged on I realised that I was being pushed out of the company and started to not believe all I was told , however I still regarded company employs as having a respect for me and the undue pressure this situation was placing on my at such a vulnerable time.
On the 13th of August I telephoned and spoke to hr for update she stated none was available.
On the 14th of August I emailed (company director) , hr and line manager asking for clarity and stating the importance of me being back in work by September again no response was received adding to the feeling of break down in relationships.
On the 17th of August I spoke to hr again who told me it would be decided that day if I still had a job and a meeting would be arranged for the following week .
This offered me some reassurance and respite from the constant worry however by the 21st August , I had still had no contact so I contacted hr again for update and was told there would be no outcome until October . I was absolutely devastated by this and I expressed my disappointment and stated the stress and upset this was causing .I reiterated that I needed to back in work and that I could not carry on like this as it was having a massive impact on my ability to sleep and function and it was becoming catastrophic for my children Hr reassured me she would do as much as possible to resolve .
On the 23rd of August I telephoned again as I had heard no more and should be able to return the 24th August if they acknowledge my first request to return to work I was requested to pop down to the office to collect a gift for my newborn son and told you can ask Hr for an update while hear . At 11.30 am I attended the office with two of my children and was asked to go into a meeting . I was surprised at this as was not expecting to do this thus why I took my children .I Was giving a letter by Hr stating my role was possibly redundant however I was expected to return to be allocated care calls within the community , this letter also asked me to provide them with my return date even though I had requested to return in July . I again expressed my concerns and disappointment in the prolonged and unexceptable stress Company had placed me under and stated that both myself and hr knew I would not be in this position if I had not gone on maternity leave .I stated under guidance I was entitled to return to my job as it was prior to maternity leave , Hr apologised and stated this was my offer . I left Office very upset and shaken with my 4 month old son and 8 year old daughter and had to drive home as you can imagine this was very distressing for both myself and my children and totally avoidable .
At 3.30pm hr telephoned me asking if I’d attend a not with prejudice meeting at 3pm the following day .
24th August - attended above meeting and offered statutory redundancy, I verbally accepted .
29th August - a settlement offer was received . I contacted Hr to clarify this was final offer as current solicitor was unhappy to sign off all my rights for a statutory redundancy. I then found a different solicitor who was happy to consider however after review from solicitor it was missing 1) holiday pay 2) outstanding smp.
Offer was revised to include holiday pay and upto 26weeks smp , returned to Company and informed smp has to be 39 weeks .
30th August - spoke to Hr who informed me that new settlement had been drawn up inclusive of this and that directors where aware of this however they were not expecting to have to pay this statory smp . she stated she was hoping that they would come into office and agree this morning however they have not and are going away for two weeks this evening so again no decision will be made for at least 2 weeks .I was again absolutely distraught by this and very worried about what would happen , i felt exhausted and extremely let down by Company I had constantly attempted to work with Company and felt that they totally disregarded me and my Carer due to me being on maternity leave .
I started to prepare a grievance after advise from Acas however whilst composing this grievance I realised that I would not be able to return to work at Company after the weeks of torment so on the 2nd September I resigned via email as I was unable to deal with stress of this ongoing issue and need to return to work ASAP , in acknowledgment of my resignation Company offered me to raise a grievance which I then done on the 6th of September, this was reviewed by Line manager on 11th September who did not agree with my thoughts , I was told to appeal to Company director , I done this on the 14th September, I received a email from Company solicitor on 18th September asking me to clarify the grounds of my appeal and that they would be dealing with it . On 20th September I rewrote and emailed my appeal on the 26th September I received an outcome to this appeal emailed from Hr but signed Company director again with none of my grievance upheld
I also contacted Acas early consolation on 4th September however Company uphold they have done nothing wrong and will not consider discussions.
Company are aware that I am a sole provider for 4 children and my family relays on my working income and due to this situation there has been a loss of mutual trust and confidence.Sadly this situation has impacted massively on my maternity leave at a time where I should be enjoying my family I have found my self under constant worry and pressure in regards to my employment .
I am very upset and disappointed that this situation has occurred and I am genuinely very disappointed I am unable to contuine to career within Company

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swingofthings Tue 09-Oct-18 07:22:21

Can't advised legally, you might have a case but you need to take into account that courts will look at failure of the company to adhere to the law and their terms and condition. They might consider verbal agreements but they might not and even if they do, it won't have the same weight than written documents.

You need to stick to facts. You being stressed etc... isn't going to be the factor that will decide if the company has broken any laws. It might be considered if you are awarded anything, possibly, but it won't build your case.

Sadly, employment cases are hard to win. You need to prove that you've been discriminated against because of your pregnancy and that they have broken the law doing so.

Ems8818 Tue 09-Oct-18 08:37:25

Thank you swingofthings so basically I need to go back throu things and focus on the main points and directly relate that either to the law or case law

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Youcandothis365 Tue 09-Oct-18 08:49:06

If there is a university in your city see if they have a law school. Often, law schools have "law clinics" / "legal advice centres" and someone there may be able to help you.

zsazsajuju Tue 09-Oct-18 09:00:29

I have helped people with employment tribunals and it’s very difficult to get decent advice without paying for it unfortunately.

Have you raised your claim? Is it sex discrimination you are claiming? You have to be offered an equivalent role but to be honest, if you could be required to work in the community before, it’s likely that the role you were offered would be considered equivalent.

It’s a different thing to go through and I have no doubt you feel you have been treated unfairly. Employment tribunals are very stressful and you may very well not achieve anything. You should consider trying to push for a reasonable settlement.

boredmum18 Tue 09-Oct-18 09:02:46

Op you need to take out all the stuff about emotional impact and stress, unfortunately the tribunal won't care, all they want to know about is how your company breached employment law

Also forget about the bit where they said they needed 8 weeks written notice for your return to work, this is completely in line with employment law

Unfortunately I'm not a lawyer but I do hope you find someone who can help you. It sounds very stressful and upsetting and it does sound like they've pushed you out since you went on mat leave

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