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Not invited to Christmas party on maternity leave - discrimination?

(182 Posts)
Cosmogirl86 Fri 15-Nov-19 15:45:36

I'm hoping to get some advice on this as I'm not overly familiar with employment legislation, and I'm not certain what constitutes discrimination and what doesn't.

I have been on maternity since June and found out last week that the Christmas party has been arranged and I've neither been notified or invited. I only found out when a friend in the office told me as we chatting, she assumed I'd been asked.

The Christmas do is always paid for by the company so the employee does not pay for themselves and is therefore a benefit of the job. Everyone except those on maternity leave have been invited from what I can gather.

I have emailed my team leader several times, and eventually got a response to say its her not her responsibility to invite me and to contact hr. I contacted HR with no response. I have since found out from my team leaders manager that it is her responsibility to invite me, yet I still have nothing.

So after multiple emails, I am ready to give up as I don't like feeling like I'm begging to be included. However I am feeling very isolated and excluded due to this.

Does this count as discrimination? I'm based in Northern Ireland if that makes a difference?

Youngatheart00 Fri 15-Nov-19 16:32:38

I see Christmas parties paid for by the employer as part of their ‘thank you’ for the contributions employees have made during the working year.

If you have been off on maternity leave, you haven’t been contributing (to the workplace!)

When did you start your mat leave? Have you had any cordial contact with the team / team management during your leave? Have you done any keep in touch days?

MythicalBiologicalFennel Fri 15-Nov-19 16:35:00

It sounds like it is a job benefit like you say. These must be maintained during maternity leave. Subjective expectations, relationships with your colleagues and managers' absent mindedness don't come into it. Yes it could be viewed as discrimination on the basis of sex.

When I was off on maternity my managers (large public sector organisation) were meticulous about informing me of changes, vacancies, opportunities and benefits. This is part of their job and their duties when an employee is on maternity leave.

Cosmogirl86 Fri 15-Nov-19 16:35:29

Firstly, refusal to give me access to promotion opportunities simply because I'm on maternity absolutely counts as discrimination and I have already taken legal advice on that front.

This isn't about entitlement, other than figuring out what I am actually entitled to under employment legislation and what I'm not.

Reachedsohigh Fri 15-Nov-19 16:40:31

You legally have to have the same access to promotion opportunities as if you were not on mat leave, in my case because I had access to emails and intranet that was sufficient. Are you saying you were overlooked for promotion or were you unaware there was a vacancy to apply for?
The christmas party is totally different and you risk sounding like you're looking for any opportunity to claim discrimination.

20viona Fri 15-Nov-19 16:43:04

@IDontEvenHaveAPla has got it spot on here. For your own benefit stop making a fuss.

WhatToDo999 Fri 15-Nov-19 16:43:43

When I was on my maternity leave I had a message from my boss giving the details of the Christmas party and to let them know if i would like to attend (i didn't, DD was only 3 weeks old) but appreciated being asked.

In April i had a letter sent to me stating i was having a payrise (at the same rate as other employees). Just because you on maternity leave doesn't mean you shouldn't be at least asked, or thought of x

leghairdontcare Fri 15-Nov-19 16:44:37

OP, if you think you have been denied a promotion due to being on maternity leave, focus on that. Don't make the mistake of bringing petty things like the Christmas party into the equation. It will dilute your argument.

IDontEvenHaveAPla Fri 15-Nov-19 16:49:07

Okay you were not clear, were you overlooked for a promotion whilst on leave because that is NOT discrimination. However, yes any jobs advertised should be available to you. How have they stopped you from accessing any internal vacancies?

You are entitled to apply for and have access to any vacancies. You are not automatically entitled to a pay rise (but this will depend on your actual contract, some people get yearly pay rises). You can certainly re-negotiate your working contract upon your return to work - they are probably expecting this anyway.

As for you not being invited to a social event, this party and any others during your maternity leave are not considered discrimination. As mentioned before, I would drop making an issue of this.

You are coming across a little as though you are really looking to find things wrong with them. Unless they've somehow stopped you accessing where they store internal vacancies and prevented you from applying it is not discrimination. If they have then yes it is something that needs to be addressed. If they have simply not offered you a role because you think you would be suitable, or a promotion, it is not discrimination. Even if you applied and were refused it would not be discrimination as it would be employer's discretion.

MythicalBiologicalFennel Fri 15-Nov-19 16:49:59


Employment rights when on leave

Youremployment rightsare protected while on Statutory Maternity Leave. This includes your right to:

pay rises
build up (accrue) holiday
return to work

Normally, the employment terms and conditions are protected and employees are entitled to any pay rises and improvements in terms and conditions given during the leave

From the Acas website:

An employee on maternity leave should be kept up to date with anything that is happening within the workplace. This should usually include, but is not limited to:

promotion opportunities
changes at work
social events

How the employee is kept up to date should be agreed between the employee and employer before the maternity leave begins.

But don't let any of that get in the way of a good old pile-on hmm

OrangeZog Fri 15-Nov-19 16:50:49

Firstly, refusal to give me access to promotion opportunities simply because I'm on maternity absolutely counts as discrimination and I have already taken legal advice on that front.

So are you saying you applied for these posts abs were told you were refused the position purely because you were on maternity leave?

This isn't about entitlement, other than figuring out what I am actually entitled to under employment legislation and what I'm not.

You and your manager or employer should agree what contact you want to have whilst you are off on maternity leave. Did you specify that you wanted to know about all events, training and meetings etc? If so and you’ve been forgotten about regarding the Christmas party but nothing else it sounds like it was an accident. If you are saying that purely because you are on maternity leave you are being refused to attend the party then you could have grounds but it could also come down to what is specified in your contract and/or maternity policy. An invite not being issued is not being refused.

IDontEvenHaveAPla Fri 15-Nov-19 16:53:53

@WhatToDo999 That was nice of your boss, but it is NOT a legal requirement to invite those on maternity leave to social events. The usual is to not bother the employee unless absolutely necessary to provide them with vital information - this would not come under that.

As for your pay rise it's dependent on contracts. If you get yearly pay rises then of course you would be entitled to that as per the rate in accordance to your contract.

IDontEvenHaveAPla Fri 15-Nov-19 16:58:00

@MythicalBiologicalFennel No pile on here. Read it again, being kept up to date is standard and something I have mentioned before. Not being invited to social events is NOT discrimination. OP is clearly in knowledge of their being an event, she's not been withheld from that information, but she is not being discriminated against by not being invited during her maternity leave.

Cosmogirl86 Fri 15-Nov-19 16:58:18

In regards to the promotion, I have no access to the internal system from home for GDPR reasons. Therefore it was agreed that opportunities would be sent to my personal email account - they were not. Note I did not say I was denied a promotion (there is always stiff competition) but rather the opportunity to even apply as I'm on maternity leave.

The pay rise thing is more complicated, it should have kicked in during my leave but due to an admin error it didn't - im currently hoping to get this back dated.

The party is a staff benefit in my mind as it paid for by the company - I was simply asking if this is also something to bring up with the solicitor or if it was not.

I don't think I'm coming across as entitled or demanding, I'm simply trying to ascertain what is worth pursuing and what isn't.

IDontEvenHaveAPla Fri 15-Nov-19 17:04:47

How did you find out you missed certain promotion opportunities then? Have you since spoken to HR to discuss this? It could simply be technical errors oppose to purposely withholding information from you. In that case, bring it to their attention and get it rectified, unless you can prove it was done purposely.

As for the pay rise, as I stated before it is dependent on your contract, and it again seems to be an administrative error which is in the process of being sorted - no discrimination there again.

So where is the discrimination?

As for the party, it's a social event, what you're taking it as is your own call but it does not make you legally entitled to be invited during your leave. If you want to bring it up with your solicitor (I am one too), you can do but there is not much they will be able to do so. They have not withheld that a party is happening, you have just not been invited during your leave.

They have kept you to date with company updates and events and unless they need to inform you something directly, there's no need for them to contact you during your leave.

WhatToDo999 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:07:17

@IDontEvenHaveAPla - I never said it WAS a legal requirement, i was just stating that i was asked if i wanted to attend and how nice i thought it was.

Yes, we get yearly payrises, and again i thought it was nice to be notified as i honestly wasn't expecting one (despite working in a law firm and knowing how these things work).

Whilst there may not be a legal requirement to be asked to a social event, you are still classed as an employee of a company/firm, whatever the case may be, i personally think its nice if you are asked and to still feel like you count just because you are not in work at that time

Cosmogirl86 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:07:39

I have not been kept up to date with anything at all by my company. Any info on promotions and this party was given to me informally by a friend in the office, as stated in my original post

Angie6868 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:08:34

Not everything is discrimination or worthy of legal advice. Just get over it and find something worthwhile to focus on. I can't believe you're making an issue if this.

Youngatheart00 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:10:08

Have you done any keep in touch days? Usually that’s a time to be updated?

IDontEvenHaveAPla Fri 15-Nov-19 17:11:17

Has your access to your work emails been restricted, or are you just not checking and only checking your personal private email?

trilbydoll Fri 15-Nov-19 17:12:23

As an employer, you have to offer stuff like xmas parties to all staff. Even leaving 1 person out makes it a taxable benefit for everyone else, like if you had a director's canteen (very old fashioned example!)

So I disagree with a lot of pp, you should have been invited and altho it's not a big deal in itself, it's indicative of the employer as a whole.

strawberry2017 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:14:08

A Christmas party is not a benefit, it's a nice to have and they can stop doing it at anytime. No company has to throw a party.
It is not discrimination it's probably just an oversight. I think you will seem ridiculous suggesting it's discrimination and to be fair you are coming across that way on here.

Potatoesx12 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:16:06

I actively try not to attend ours, it's compulsory though. Maternity leave people are always included and invited.

Cosmogirl86 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:16:16

My access to work email is totally restricted at home due to our GDPR policy, as previously stated

SleepingStandingUp Fri 15-Nov-19 17:18:13

I'd stick to the promotion and pay rise, works do is a perk not a bonus. It can be cancelled at a moments notice with no come back. It's nice to be invited but wonder if the pending legal action is why, of they've been to appraoch only through legal channels?

Potatoesx12 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:18:27

I would just enjoy your maternity leave tbh. It goes by really quickly and before you know it, it's back to the world of work. For years and years without a break. Enjoy the time off with your baby.

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