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Made redundant whilst on maternity leave

(7 Posts)
TC08 Thu 21-Aug-08 19:35:54

Hi

I have been on maternity leave for 4 months and aimed to return to work in November. I called my employer recently to discuss my return date.

My boss asked me to come to see him and when I did he didn't want to discuss my return date but instead advised me that due to financial pressures on the business he was going to have to reduce staff numbers and I was the employee he had selected to be make redundant.

I am shocked and scared by this news and don't know what to do.

I am (was) the office manager with a wide ranging number of duties and responsibilities. I have been advised that my duties will be spread amongst other staff members and I will not be replaced. There are no other roles or vacancies in the company that I would be suited for and could apply for.

Nothing has been formalised yet. I have simply been told by my boss that I will hear from him in 4 to 6 weeks.

I have worked for this company for over 2 years and so from my quick research I can see I am probably entitled to £660 redunancy pay plus payment for my untaken holidays. However, this is of little comfort to me as I will now have to face significant inconvenience including cancelling my childcare place which was difficult to secure and now go job hunting on the lead up to xmas and of course the financial stress this will put me and my family under.

Whilst I cannot prove anything I would suggest that I would have not been targetted if I had not been on maternity leave and I feel that my boss is just trying to get my job done by others on lower pay (receptionist on minimum wage for instance). In my mind if the business is not doing well then really the boss needs to reduce the number of the core business staff, of which there are many, since there is obviously not enough work for them all to be doing. He shouldn't be losing one of his support team staff like me where only one office manager position exists. It is very shortsighted as part of my job entails winning new work for the company. Anyway, this is just my opinion, but it looks like the easier, less hassle, option to get rid of me rather than any of the others. Even if business is light my tasks and duties would not dwindle whilst the core business staff will end up twiddling their thumbs.

I just really want to know what rights, if any, I have. I understand being on maternity leave that I have to be offered any other available positions but there are no such positions. But do I have any other rights? Has my company treated me fairly? Is there any other financial settlement I am entitled to other than the £660?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks

TC08

mppaw Fri 22-Aug-08 12:37:08

TC08...this is terrible. Firstly I would consult your employee handbook and I am sure employers have to follow a code of conduct. I work for a large Company in London and they are currently doing redundancies and they have to let the certain areas know they are "on review", they then have so many weeks to review the work that is done in that area and then the names of the people whos jobs are under threat will be sent to HR etc etc...it is a long winded process. Your employer sounds like he is pulling a fast one. I would also book an appointment with HR asking to discuss what your manager has said. Also was there anyone else in the meeting to witness what he has said ? I think you should get the handbook and book an appointment with HR. I know it is hard, but try not to discuss things with other collegues as this could cause more problems. Hope this helps, really feel for you as this is not a nice scenario to be in. Keep me posted.

lulumama Fri 22-Aug-08 12:39:54

speak to ACAS

this happened to my sister too, it seems to be rife.

so sorry. what a stressful situation

procedures have to be followed, and letters sent out etc.. rather than just telling you that you are out

bran Fri 22-Aug-08 12:53:50

It is pretty horrible to make someone redundant while they're on maternity leave, but I don't think your boss has actually done anything wrong.

Rather than giving up your childcare place can you start job hunting now. It will take a while to get interviews/job offers etc and then most places would expect to wait for a month for a new person to start anyway.

Were you replaced while you were on maternity leave? If so then what is happening to your replacement. If the job is really redundant your replacement should have left already/be leaving soon. If they didn't replace you while you were on leave and they are still managing then sadly the probability is that your position is a prime candidate for redundancy.

It's common to make support staff redundant before core business staff, and it makes business sense because if things pick up there is a danger of losing potential business if there aren't enough sales/production/whatever people.

slug Fri 22-Aug-08 15:31:18

Check with lowerybeanbag about this one, she's the guru of all things HR. I thought that your job was protected while on maternity leave.

ACAS syas: "At the end of maternity leave, you have the right to return to your original job. If a redundancy situation arises, you must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy if one is available. If your employer cannot offer suitable alternative work, you may be entitled to redundancy pay."

3boys1man Fri 22-Aug-08 18:58:09

Legal advice please! To be short whilst on maternity leave my manager was made redundant as the Group work was to become the responsibility of the business units. Although i work for Group I have been told that there will still be a job for me. From looking at changes and budget cuts there only appears to be 50% of my job left. I've been asking for a full job description since May to ensure that the role will still be at the same level and have be told that there will be one on my return - I go back on 8th September. I have also heard rumours that a new role which I would be able to be considered for has been offered externally. As I do not have confirmation of a job description should i not have been offered the new role before they went externally? Thanks.

squiffy Mon 25-Aug-08 12:18:43

If you have good reason to suspect that your employer took the fact or your matenrity leave into account when selecting you for redundancy, as opposed to someone else, then you have a case for a claim of sex discrimination.

Here is some more info. Any employment lawyer will be able to go into this in more detail with you.

The good news for you is that if there is a hint of suggesiton that you were selected then the onus is on the boss to prove otherwise, which can be extremely difficult. The bad news is that you don't have any automatic protection just because you are on leave (unless there were other jobs going - in which case you are on stronger ground)

You need some proper legal advice so you need to act. the large law firms will usually give you a first meeting of 30-45 minutes free. Have all the information and details and dates to hand before the meeting.

Accept that the very best outcome is probably going to be a compromise agreement of more money, it will only be worth pursuing all the way to tribunal if you have have lots of evidence, are unable to find suitable alternative employment (any new job actually limits your payout if you win), and were blessed with a pair of steel cojones.

If you decide not to pursue it make sure that your payoff includes holiday pay accrued during the period you are on leave..

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