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Can they do this while I'm on maternity leave and still employed?

(13 Posts)
Kyte Sun 19-Aug-07 20:18:20

Hi, I need some advice...

I'm a Church of England curate in the first month of maternity leave. My diocese has never given me a maternity policy despite my asking for one. I agreed with them that I would take the full year's maternity leave from mid July (9 months paid minimum pay amount & 3 months unpaid)and I put this in writing.

My house comes with the job but some months ago they said they wanted to charge me rent during maternity leave. I refused and they agreed to drop it - but this was all discussed verbally and they still haven't given me anything in writing. An hour ago I accidentally discovered that behind my back, they have gone to my local church and told them to charge me rent. My local church were horrified and refused, but the diocese is insisting that they charge full market rent for the last three months of my maternity leave. The diocese have said nothing to me about this. The market rent is far too expensive for us to afford. And my curate's contract is due to run out at exactly the same point as my maternity leave is due to end. So officially I'll still be the curate at the point where they want to charge rent, even if I'm not being paid. Where do I stand, legally, please?

MyTwopenceworth Sun 19-Aug-07 20:22:10

Your rent free accomodation is part of your job surely? Wouldn't it be the same as cutting your wages? You need ACAS I think.

redtent Sun 19-Aug-07 21:07:27

Hi Kyte....

(you should be able to figure out who I am!)

I am appauled about this BUT not surprised. My experiences tell me never underestimate the coe and who inept they are regarding a) employment and b) women!

DH will call you..... may have done so already lol BUT your primary route should be via your diocesan chair of the house of clergy- they should be able to advise you. Otherwise please do contact us and we can help......

Pixiefish Sun 19-Aug-07 21:14:07

Have had a look at the Maternity Alliance information and apparently they can do this during your additional maternity leave- it's during the Ordinary Mat leave that they can't.

'What will I get while I'm away?
During your OML period your contractual rights (i.e. any special rights that apply to your particular workplace, such as a company car or pension) continue as if you were still at work, apart from your normal pay.

During the AML period you will continue to be an employee, but the only contractual rights that continue automatically will be:

the notice period in your contract of employment will still apply (if either you or your employer wish to terminate your employment)
you will be entitled to redundancy pay
disciplinary and grievance procedures will apply
if your contract has a section which states you must not work for any other company, this will still apply.

It might be possible to negotiate with your employer for other contractual rights to continue.

Bubble99 Sun 19-Aug-07 21:14:30

All benefits (including, in this case rent-free housing, car etc) cease at the end of the period of stat maternity leave ( 9 months.)

Seems very harsh though of them to enforce this...

pistachio Sun 19-Aug-07 21:14:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pistachio Sun 19-Aug-07 21:15:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pixiefish Sun 19-Aug-07 21:16:24

It may well be different as you're clergy though- the house is more than just a perk isn't it. I have friends who are a married clergy couple and they use their house as an extension of the church

Bubble99 Sun 19-Aug-07 21:21:02

We run two daycare nurseries and, as part of her employment package, one of our managers has a free child care place for her 2 year old.

She will be going on maternity leave soon and we could withdraw her free place after 9 months (she will be taking the full year off.)

Couldn't even contemplate charging her for those 3 months.

Kyte Mon 20-Aug-07 11:07:24

Thanks everyone (esp Redtent)

I must admit I had no idea they could do this. I assumed that the house was a vital part of the job because we're paid a living (stipend), not a salary, because we need a house to live in.

I'm not sure how they expect us to pay when they aren't paying me my stipend for the last 3 months anyway - where do they think the money can come from?

Pixiefish Mon 20-Aug-07 15:31:03

That's why I thougth it may be different for clergy- as you're not waged as such. I'd try and contact someone in a clerical union or something somewhere or someone in another parish who may know the situation better

furrycat Mon 20-Aug-07 15:35:35

That's just terrible! Isn't it just the same as withdrawing your car or your private health cover while you're unpaid - I've never heard of a company doing this and taking away benefits.

flowerybeanbag Fri 24-Aug-07 21:30:57

It is correct that you are not entitled to any benefits during additional maternity leave as people have said.
However I am sure that extending the technicality of the law to the extent of withdrawing someone's housing is not really within the 'spirit' of the law. It is possible there may be some case law around accommodation provided, but I don't know.
To be honest what I would consider doing is refusing to pay rent. Try thinking of this 'benefit' as like a company car or something. If an organisation normally provided you with a car, and then during your AML wanted to charge you for the lease, you would consider handing the car back for those few months rather than paying the lease. Consider whether one option would be writing to them and saying that obviously you cannot pay rent as during that time you have nowhere near your normal level of income, let alone the extra you would need to pay rent on your accommodation which is normally included in your remuneration. So you are planning to move out instead at that time. Then they obviously won't get any rent either. Might be worth a try, calling their bluff a bit.
If you can get some more advice about usual practice with members of the clergy that would be good though - I can't advise on normal procedure in these situations, and as I say, there may well be some case law about withdrawal of normal accommodation from individuals on maternity leave, which someone else may be able to advise about.
Good luck.

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