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MNHQ here. Sign in for FREE legal advice about pregnancy, maternity or parental issues at work from Maternity Action and the Employment Lawyers Association

(96 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Nov-18 09:12:08

Hello

Mumsnet, Maternity Action and the Employment Lawyers Association are teaming up to provide a free online legal clinic all week this week, offering advice from specialist employment solicitors and barristers on pregnancy, maternity and parental rights at work.

Maternity Action reports huge demand for its advice line, especially topics such as redundancy during maternity leave, return to work, maternity pay and rights during pregnancy. On Mumsnet, the topic of employment rights is a hardy perennial.

So we thought we’d try this out to see if we can help make good, free advice available to all.

The clinic will take place on this thread. If you’re dealing with a work situation and you want to be sure of your pregnancy, maternity and/or parental rights, post an outline of your dilemma here. You don’t need to include identifying details: a specialist solicitor or barrister will follow up with you via PM if they need to know more.

You will also be asked by one of the volunteers, via PM, to disclose your name and the name of your employer so that possible conflicts of interest can be ruled out. Because PMs are critical to how this works, please don’t change your username within this thread, as it will make it difficult for the volunteers to be sure they’re exchanging personal messages with the right person. (Of course, if you want to change your username before posting your problem, that’s fine.)

Personal information collected via personal message for the clinic will be held by Maternity Action and will be deleted after 18 months. Private messages are stored on Mumsnet until the user deletes them.

Answers and advice from the specialists will be posted up on this thread. The clinic will run for a week; we will do our best to provide all answers during the week but, at the latest, by the end of the following week. You can find information on where to go for more help once the clinic has ended here.

Finally (!) - for anyone who takes part - we’d love it if you could fill in Maternity Action’s feedback survey once the clinic has finished, so that we can find out how effective this has been for you.

Important: The advice provided to an individual poster is based only on the information provided by that poster. Advice on this thread is also particular to the individual who has asked for it and is likely to be specific to that person’s situation. A poster may have provided further relevant information by private message which will not appear on this thread. So please take care if you choose to apply that advice to your own situation - it is recommended that you first take legal advice from one of the sources we have recommended here.

The lawyers, all of whom are specialists in employment law, will be working as volunteers for Maternity Action in respect of the clinic. (You can read more about how this works, and the complaints procedure, here.)

Mumsnet, Maternity Action, Maternity Action's volunteers and the Employment Lawyers Association accept no liability for any loss suffered as a result of an individual choosing to follow advice provided to another poster's question on the thread. If you wish to make a complaint about the service you received, you can use Maternity Action’s complaints policy here.

So, please feel free to get posting with your dilemmas and questions for the lawyers. (Any non-legal questions about how this will work, please feel free to post those too.)

Thanks
MNHQ

AfterAdvice Mon 05-Nov-18 12:58:32

I am about to finish maternity leave and will then start another maternity leave again soon, without returning to work in the meantime as I will be off sick with depression/anxiety. The depression and anxiety are caused by the stillbirth of my baby in my last pregnancy, but would tye anxiety count as pregnancy related since my worry is purely about my current pregnancy as a result of what happened?

I also don’t want to return to work after this pregnancy because I don’t want to sit and talk with people who were due at the same time as me last time, and I also have had a change of perspective about working whilst my child is so young. I have to work for three months in order to repay my enhanced pay. Will the six weeks I am off sick soon and then six weeks of annual leave that I will take at the end of my next maternity leave cover this or does the three months have to be consecutive? I’m only planning on taking SMP this time round as I know I won’t be returning. Does paternity leave count as return to work for the purposes of not paying back maternity pay in case I do not have quite enough holiday pay? Am I also right in thinking that because I have not had the chance to take this year’s holiday from my work that I can carry 20 days over? The 20 days will be from my current year (so need to be used by 31 December 2019) or can I carry over all 25 days because it isn’t carried over from my 2018 year’s leave?

Thank you.

6triesbuttingout Mon 05-Nov-18 13:13:54

I don’t know how else to post. I’ve been married more than 35years. My husband hit me for the first time yesterday, day after my mum died. Where do I go from here

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Nov-18 13:30:20

6triesbuttingout

I don’t know how else to post. I’ve been married more than 35years. My husband hit me for the first time yesterday, day after my mum died. Where do I go from here

Hi 6tries

We're so sorry to hear you're having such a bad time of it. This thread is about employment issues so the volunteers may not be able to advise you, but you might want to consider contacting the Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. If you are in immediate danger please consider calling 999.

ILoveHumanity Mon 05-Nov-18 13:37:30

I was working in a short placement after I graduated. In a career that I really excel in. But before I started the job I had a miscarriage and was very emotional.

When I started my job , it was temporary contract, I worked very very hard but one of my supervisors were not taking me v seriously and leaving things till last minute despite me following them up about giving me tasks.

Anyway I performed really well for the first 2 months and then found out I was pregnant. I kept working hard but the symptoms hit me hard but I still worked very hard.

Then I miscarried one month after finding out. there was two weeks left for the placement. I was really emotionally messed, my supervisor told me to take time off but I didn’t want to as I still needed to finish the project.

The second supervisor gave me a change of plan for the project and completely derailed the whole project 2 weeks before the deadline. I was quite stressed and couldn’t perform my best, I went crazy with planning daily experiments in order to reach the deadline and fell short of being able to manage that along with proper admin.

Before that my performance was great.

When I finished my contract I took time off to distress and because I was very emotional from the miscarriage and all.. I told myself I will submit the files properly after I relax.

One month after I fell pregnant again ( honestly not planned)..and I went through a serious case of prenatal anxiety, so I just submitted the handover with whatever I had and didn’t reflect my best performance.

This job had been in a very prestigious place, very demanding , and I needed it for a reference. I had a PhD offer from another place which I turned down due to pregnancy anxiety and decided to take a break as I was mentally exhausted.

I feel embarrassed that I submitted a folder with so much mess and feel upset that it didn’t reflect my real performance.

I’m quite unsure how to obtain a reference which is needed if I need to apply for a good job (the pregnancy succeeded!).

Please advise

plantingandpotting Mon 05-Nov-18 13:39:57

A colleague who recently left for ML told me in passing that she was surprised that all of her pregnancy-related sick days were deducted from her ML.

I'm now 11 weeks pregnant and avoiding taking any sick days, purely because of this. Once I've officially told HR about the pregnancy, I'll feel more comfortable about calling and questioning the policies, but for now does this sound like common practice? I work for a company who are otherwise very good about paid sick leave.

Thanks smile

Fred999 Mon 05-Nov-18 13:59:41

My company’s maternity policy says “If you have worked for the company for at least 26 consecutive weeks before your qualifying date then you are entitled to [company name] maternity pay. [Company name] maternity pay is 16 weeks full pay followed by 23 weeks statutory pay”

I have worked for the company for 6 years and I am taking voluntary redundancy which will happen after my qualifying date. Judging by the wording of the maternity policy I think I should be entitled to their enhanced maternity pay, however HR say I am only entitled to statutory maternity pay, which will be paid as a lump sum with my redundancy money.

Nothing in the maternity or redundancy policies covers this so I would be grateful for any advice.

TeabagTelepathy Mon 05-Nov-18 14:23:46

Ive missed out on the annual pay review and bonus review whilst being on maternity leave. They also plan to demote me on my return. I understand I should still be offered my role or suitable alternative but is this correct practice?

any advice much appreciated

Snoozername123456 Mon 05-Nov-18 14:37:43

I won a grievance at my work after being passed over in favour of an unqualified male colleague with no relevant experience for a position I had university qualifications for and several years experience doing that exact job. This was after being told it was a man's job. I was then given the same role as another male colleague but was refused equal pay until I won a grievance about it. There were numerous comments about my pregnancy/gender. Later (so not included within the grievance) during a "recruitment ban", my employer advertised my job description, at a higher pay grade and recruited a male former colleague into the post, while I was still in it (no performance issues), I then got made redundant (voluntary, but clearly my post had been subsumed into the new post, so jumping before I was pushed). The stress of all this had a significant and physical impact on my health. I have developed ME and fibromyalgia, the symptoms of which appeared just after the recruitment incident nearly 3 years ago. I am now unable to work full time and struggle with normal day to day activities. My consultant has confirmed in writing that in his opinion the stress at work was the trigger for my illness. I have written evidence for all of this and I want to take my former employer to court, but I can't find a solicitor who can take my case; either they don't do employment issues or they only deal with accident/injuries etc. Who can I go to or how can I do it myself without a solicitor?

MaternityActionELAfreeadvice Mon 05-Nov-18 15:14:08

Hello everyone, Maternity Action and volunteer lawyers from the Employment Lawyers Association are very excited to be taking part in this online legal clinic with Mumsnet this week.

Please send us your questions, we can help with problems at work around maternity pay, pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination, return to work, asking to change your working hours, time off for your partner around the birth and shared parental leave.

Once you've posted your questions, please PM your employer's name so we can check there's no conflict of interest.

We'll try and get back to everyone by the end of the week or next week, at the latest.

MaternityActionELAfreeadvice Mon 05-Nov-18 15:18:14

AfterAdvice

I am about to finish maternity leave and will then start another maternity leave again soon, without returning to work in the meantime as I will be off sick with depression/anxiety. The depression and anxiety are caused by the stillbirth of my baby in my last pregnancy, but would tye anxiety count as pregnancy related since my worry is purely about my current pregnancy as a result of what happened?

I also don’t want to return to work after this pregnancy because I don’t want to sit and talk with people who were due at the same time as me last time, and I also have had a change of perspective about working whilst my child is so young. I have to work for three months in order to repay my enhanced pay. Will the six weeks I am off sick soon and then six weeks of annual leave that I will take at the end of my next maternity leave cover this or does the three months have to be consecutive? I’m only planning on taking SMP this time round as I know I won’t be returning. Does paternity leave count as return to work for the purposes of not paying back maternity pay in case I do not have quite enough holiday pay? Am I also right in thinking that because I have not had the chance to take this year’s holiday from my work that I can carry 20 days over? The 20 days will be from my current year (so need to be used by 31 December 2019) or can I carry over all 25 days because it isn’t carried over from my 2018 year’s leave?

Thank you.

I am very sorry to hear about your stillbirth. I hope to be able to answer your questions. Firstly, if you are going to take sick leave after your current period of maternity leave ends you should contact your employer as usual to call in sick and follow their normal sick leave procedures. If you are handing in a sick note, you should talk to your GP first to get their advice on whether they consider your depression and anxiety to be pregnancy-related. In your circumstances, this seems reasonable but it is up to your GP to advise and to fill out your sick note accordingly. Any pregnancy-related sick leave should be counted separately from other sick leave so that you are not disadvantaged as a result of being absent.

In relation to your employer's enhanced maternity pay, you will need to check the repayment conditions in your employer's maternity policy. The repayment provisions are likely to apply to the three months immediately after the end of your current maternity leave. It may be sufficient to remain employed for at least three months after the end of your maternity leave. If so, weeks of employment can include weeks of annual leave, sick leave and a further period of maternity leave. However, some policies may exclude some types of leave or periods when you are not physically in work from counting towards a return to work period.

If you are thinking of taking Parental Leave you usually need to give 21 days notice. You remain employed during Parental Leave but, again, whether you can count periods of Parental Leave towards a return to work period will depend on your employer's maternity policy.
Lastly, in relation to holiday accrued during maternity leave, wherever possible you should try to take your holiday within each leave year e.g. by 31st December. If you are unable to take your holiday each year because of maternity leave, your employer should allow you to carry forward up to 20 days untaken holiday to the next leave year. If you are not returning to work after your next maternity leave, once you have made the decision to resign you should give your employer the notice required by your contract. On resignation, you are entitled to be paid for any outstanding holiday that you have accrued up to the end of your contract. I hope that helps and very best wishes.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Nov-18 16:54:57

Hello: just a reminder - if you've posted a problem and not yet had a reply, please check your PM inbox as there will be a message in there for you from the volunteers. They won't be able to post up a response until you've replied to the message.

Thanks to all who've taken part so far.

AfterAdvice Mon 05-Nov-18 17:16:38

I am choosing not to take medication during my pregnancy because it cannot be guaranteed as safe for my baby. I don’t know for definite but it is possible that I might be fit for work, instead of being off sick, if I took this medication. What I have been offered is from a psychiatrist from the perinatal mental health team for depression and anxiety, and I’ve been told there are risks with taking it. Can work penalise me for not taking medication to potentially reduce my sickness. Well

beenrumbled Mon 05-Nov-18 17:17:29

I have applied for 3 periods of unpaid parental leave from work, next year, ie Feb, April and July.

I have applied for the leave in blocks of one week, and the leave was authorised.

When I received my employers confirmation that the leave was granted, they included a sentence to say that they can cancel dependent on business needs as per their policy.

I have checked the employee handbook and the policy only says that they can ask to defer it, not cancel; it also gives no time frame for a notice period if they do this. The only reference i can find is on the GOV website which says if they are going to ask me to defer/postpone they should do it within 7 days of the application.

I'm now worried I will have my unpaid leave cancelled.

Where do I actually stand with this?

measureformeasure Mon 05-Nov-18 19:20:06

I’ve been with my employer for about two years and just found out that I’m pregnant and due next summer.

I haven’t told my employer yet as it’s just too soon. I’m concerned about the reaction I get when I do as they have “form” for discrimination. A previously well-thought of employee was forced from her job when her maternity leave ended as they “couldn’t accommodate” the hours she’d previously agreed with them. She wasn’t allowed to return to her job, ultimately. What can I do to prevent this happening to me?

Rednaxela Mon 05-Nov-18 19:40:50

If I become pregnant during a fixed term contract e.g. pregnancy occurs 1 month into a 12 month contract, what would happen? If I took maternity leave part way through the contract would I have a job to go back to?

Wanderer1 Mon 05-Nov-18 19:42:37

My job is on a new open ended contract (I am not sure of the implications of this when it comes to leave entitlements) and my duties are such that I would not be able to, or allowed to, continue with them once I was pregnant (planing to TTC in the new year). What effect is this likely to have on my entitlement to paid maternity pay and could they force me to start my leave period as soon as I concieved since I would not be able to do my normal job?

Darkshine Mon 05-Nov-18 20:08:33

Hi, I am currently on maternity leave. A few weeks after the birth of my baby, my employer has started a consultation to change working hours and put everyone on the team in a rota (I previously worked fixed days and hours that fit in with my childcare for my older child, and would still be suitable upon my return from this ML)

There have been several meetings, which I have been invited to but unable to attend because of childcare. I have requested the minutes to be sent to my personal email address as all communications have been to work emails that I don't have access to. I haven't recieved all communications, and was told that "due to my maternity leave, I had been removed from staffing list and not emailed (having asked for emails to my personal account three times previously). This was a few days after the consultation had closed and i had not had a further 1-1 meeting as promised. The changes have now been put into place, this will mean a change of contract as the hours that they propose do not fit into my current hours. They will also not suit me as they won't fit my childcare situation. I have not had chance to discuss how the changes would affect me or to clarify any details. The consultation was restarted due to clarity issues, and although I had an early 1-1 it was very vague as the details hadn't been finalised yet.

Initially I was asked to submit a flexible working request,which I did; it has now been 4 months and I have had a meeting but no outcome.

I have also noticed that my personal email address has been added to the top of an all staff email, so it has been shared with all members of staff in our department, not just our team. I am awaiting a grievance hearing, the last one was cancelled last minute due to sickness. Please can you advise me if this is the right thing to do?
Thanks

Sophielily2017 Mon 05-Nov-18 20:45:19

Hi,

I work for the government and upon returning to work following maternity leave, had my flexible work agreement denied, being told, work the shift pattern I currently do, or apply for another job. In August this year, I received 1/5 of the bonus that all other employees received, with HR stating that it was because of my absense on maternity leave. The Staff Handbook of the company I work for states: “All pregnant employees are protected against less favourable treatment on the grounds of their pregnancy and will not be dismissed, made redundant or suffer a detriment of any kind for any reason connected with their pregnancy or childbirth or for taking paid or unpaid maternity leave.”
I have raised a formal grievance (4 weeks ago) to which they have not followed procedure and I have had no formal communication from them. I have been advised to take them to an Emploment Tribunal however I just can’t afford it. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks.

Waterparc Mon 05-Nov-18 22:08:36

What a fantastic idea, thank you all MNHQ and the lawyers involved.

Viloski7 Tue 06-Nov-18 00:13:22

Hi

I’m on currently on maternity leave 4 months into it and I have been thinking of doing flexible working when I return.

I contacted my HR about this last week and they emailed me a form to fill out regarding the flexible working and advised me that I should complete the form late January of next year as it’s too early now.

The form is basically asking me to sell myself and why my employer should allow me to reduce my hours and what benefits/ benefits it would bring to the department if I did part time.

I would like your expert opinion if this is correct way to do it and what legal rights I have for them granting me part time and what can I do to get reduced hours. I usually work full time 40 hours a week.

Thank You smile

DorothyMantooth Tue 06-Nov-18 00:27:41

I have been in my current job for 19 months and am expecting my second child, due in February 2019. I work in a very niche area within my organisation - I am the only person working in my area, which is very lucrative, and some months ago it was agreed with senior management that a junior person would be hired to support me in my role.
There has been a lot of upheaval in my organisation recently, and my previous line manager resigned at the same time that I announced my pregnancy. Shortly afterwards, two new senior Directors joined the organisation. They have instigated significant changes and whilst they seem enthusiastic about my area of work they have little understanding of how it works. There has been a lot of discussion as to how to cover my maternity leave, with my view being that the person who was being recruited to support me would be able to cover whilst I was away. However, after several months I was informed that this support position was being cancelled and that my maternity leave would be covered internally.
Separate to this discussion we have also been discussing my position within the organisation. Since I joined the organisation, I have been very successfully carrying out a more senior role than intended (this can be evidenced through financial performance) and since colleagues on a similar grade have had their positions improved as part of the recent changes, I had asked that such a promotion could be considered for me when I return from maternity leave. This was initially rejected although later it was agreed that the more senior position (which I am already unofficially carrying out) would be created - it would be a new position within the organisation - but it would be externally recruited. I was not happy with this position because other staff have been given new positions without external competition, but I was informed that although those colleagues had new job titles there was not external competition because their new roles were an extension of their previous roles rather than an entirely new role. This is the exact same position for my current role and the proposed new role - I am already carrying out 95% of the responsibilities of the more senior role. However, I decided to leave the discussion at that until I returned from maternity leave.
After having found and started training an internal maternity cover, two weeks ago I was informed by the new Directors that they had decided to externally advertise the maternity cover position. Since time is now running out for the recruitment, there is now a very strong possibility that we will not be able to recruit anyone in time for me to hand over to them before I leave at the end of January. Moreover, they had decided to recruit someone on my exact job description. I was also informed that they had changed their minds about the more senior position which I had been discussing with them. They have decided that this position will definitely be created and will be advertised this time next year (when I will still be on maternity leave, and will have been off for about 7 months). One of the directors told me that they hoped that the maternity cover person would also apply for the job, as this would show that they have ambition.
I feel that I am now recruiting my replacement in more ways than one. I cannot help but feel that the maternity cover, who will have the same skills and level of experience as me, and will be actually in the job when they apply for it, will stand a better chance of getting the more senior position than me. I will have been away from the job for some time, and feel that will not be in the right frame of mind for applying or interviewing for a job whilst I am on maternity leave. I am also very resentful that the organisation can put me in a position where I essentially have to compete for my own job when I should be focused on my baby. I understand that they will argue that I have the choice not to apply, and that my role (the more junior one) will still be there for me when I return. However I cannot imagine returning to work to a job which I have built up from scratch, to work under someone else (and potentially the person I hired as my maternity cover). I therefore feel that I will have no choice but to do the application and interview whilst on maternity leave, and this is causing me a great deal of anxiety and resentment. I feel that the directors are taking advantage of the fact that I am going on maternity leave and therefore don't have a strong hand in negotiations, and that I am being treated differently to other colleagues who are not pregnant.
I have a meeting scheduled with the director with whom I get on best next week with the aim of discussing these issues face to face - I work remotely and most of the previous discussions have been over the phone. Could you give me some advice on my rights so that I can be clear when I have this discussion? Specifically, I would like to know whether it is acceptable for them to advertise the senior role whilst I am on maternity leave and also whether it is acceptable for them to treat me differently than other colleagues in the extension of my role (external competition rather than promotion/job title change). Many thanks - apologies for the long message!

Emeraldbridge Tue 06-Nov-18 00:58:12

What a great idea, thank you!
I am currently half way through a year’s maternity leave. My employer pays me a decent enhanced maternity pay. I am planning on getting pregnant again soon, partly due to age, also as I suffered from bad sickness with my last pregnancy and would prefer to be at home rather than work when that is at its worst. My contract / maternity policy does not state how long I would have to go back to work for in between to receive full enhanced pay should I be lucky enough to fall pregnant soon. What are the rules around this? Does it make a difference what I would be earning during the qualifying week?

LadyFuchsiaGroan Tue 06-Nov-18 01:21:38

I am coming to the end of my maternity leave and have informed my manager I wouldn't be returning due to child care issues. When I asked for information regarding receiving my accrued holiday pay during my maternity leave, I was informed that I was not in any way entitled to any holiday pay, even though the company maternity pack I was supplied with does state that all employees continue to accrue holiday pay while on maternity leave.

While on maternity leave I wasn't entitled to pay from the company so I had applied and was receiving maternity allowance instead. I would be very grateful for any advice on this .

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 06-Nov-18 09:22:53

Waterparc

What a fantastic idea, thank you all MNHQ and the lawyers involved.

Thank you! (As you can see, Maternity Action and the lawyers are doing most of the work...)

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