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Back from ML and no work to do - how do I play this?

(25 Posts)
bunnyrabbit Wed 03-Dec-08 13:13:21

In a nut shell - I've been back at my fulltime job since 5th November. Am a shared resource between 3 managers, who all have the same boss, all of whom tell me they have no current projects for me to manage. All projects I was managing before I went on ML have been handed to a different department, as have any that have come up since.

I am following proper procedure and after several meetings with all 3 managers I have had a meeting with their boss, who said on Monday that he hadn't managed to speak to them yet and would catch up with them and come back to me this morning. He told me this morning that he still hasn't spoken to them and will get back to me by the end of today.

I have no work to do and feel they are trying to make me leave.

I had a meeting over the phone before my return with one of the manangers and HR where I was told that I couldn't use all my holiday when I came back as there was too much work on (I wanted to take every Friday before Xmas as hols).

So how long do I give their boss before I go to HR and start formal Grievance proceedings?? I don't really want to do this as I need a job, but I don't feel they are giving me any choice. I'm entitled to my job back and I don't have it!!

Any advice gratefully accepted.


ditheringdora Wed 03-Dec-08 13:18:29

hmm, does sound suss!. However, I would hold fire for a little longer. If at all possible, find something to do and note what you've done ie updated contacts list, confirmed meeting for X, spoke with Y and offered assistance with get the picture.
give your bosses' boss time to get back to you and give you a reasonable explanation first tho' (if he/she can) hth

ilovemydog Wed 03-Dec-08 13:28:15

Well, the only obligation an employer has is to pay you!

But having said that, it appears that you haven't been returned to your same job, which you are entitled to.

Do you have a job description, or a template for the job you were doing prior to maternity leave?

If I were in your position, I would ensure that I had it in writing from all the bosses concerned, that there isn't any work for do to do, and generally use the time to gather evidence. Take notes of what you have been doing and keep a diary.

Then request an informal meeting to discuss the options. I would ask for someone from H/R to attend to take notes and be an independent party.

You would need to make a complaint (grievance procedure) based on not being returned to same job (or roughly the same) based maternity leave (sex discrim)

ilovemydog Wed 03-Dec-08 13:30:44

Oh, forgot to ask.... are there redundancies being made? Would this be something you would want?

bunnyrabbit Wed 03-Dec-08 13:40:42

Thanks for your responses,

No redundancies. I'm a Project Manager and an org chart with me on it with my job title was issues on 11/11.

Have had several meetings with the three stooges (as my DH calls them) and they have consistantly given me the same response - no current or future projects. This is why I called a meeting with their boss. Oh and the department which is now doing my projects had to take on a new hire in June as they are so busy.

I have kept a log of everything that has happened since my return, including status on the one menial task which I was given and have comepleted. I now have literally nothing to do, except go on mumsnet obviously grin.

How long should I give him before I go to HR do you think? Problem is, in the environment I work, as soon as I go to HR I've a feeling I'll be out the door.....


rookiemater Wed 03-Dec-08 14:20:08

Hi, I would wait and see what the big boss says on Monday. It sounds crap btw I always think it is much worse being bored than busy.

Could it be to do with the time of year ? I know its unusual in our place to kick off big projects in December.

bunnyrabbit Wed 03-Dec-08 14:28:42

Hi rookiemater,
Had meeting on Monday just gone. Am waiting for him to get back to me and yes it is excruciating and each minute is going by soooo slowly... I just don't know how long to give him. I really can't take one more day of this......

Yes and no to time of year. There are projects being handled by another department. Also they should be able to tell me what projects we have coming up in the new year, Q1 and Q2 etc, but cannot.


shortcircuit Wed 03-Dec-08 14:33:54

Be very careul here as a similar thing happened to me,

You MUST put everything in writing & you must talk to someone else at your office - so that there is a record of someone else knowing what is going on.

To cover the previous conversations, I would sent an email to the person who stated you couldn't have the fridays off because of too much work, but you are confused because there appears to be no work.

Write to the managers & state you currently have been given no work to do (becareful if you find yourself work, because this then assumes the managers don't need to find you anything).

Clarfiy this mornings email confirming that you appreciate x hasn't manager to speak to y + Z & that you are ok to wait until Friday.

Please log all of this with HR - they don't need to do anything, but there does need to be tangible proof there are 'difficulties'

BTW You are not necessarily entitled to have your old job back.

Hopefully Flowerybeanbag will be along + other HR peeps.

ilovemydog Wed 03-Dec-08 14:37:23

There are very limited circumstances for a woman returning back from maternity leave not going back to previous job, and in which case, you would need to be consulted and offered a job with same pay (or better) and on same terms and conditions.

flowerybeanbag Wed 03-Dec-08 19:26:10

bunny have you heard back from big boss yet - he said the end of the day?

I think giving a few weeks grace when it comes to this type of thing is fair enough - when someone comes back from maternity leave it's not always as neat and tidy as slotting back in with exactly the right amount of work, particularly if the person's been off for a long time, and especially with project work as well.

Having said that, it's now been nearly a month, with no projects seemingly looming on the horizon, and you've been refused holiday because it was 'so busy'.

You say you think they are trying to get rid of you. Why? What makes you think that and also what do you think their motivation is in doing so? Do you think your role is maybe redundant and they are hoping to save redundancy costs? Have a think about what outome they are looking for, if any, whether they are just disorganised, and what their motivations might be. That will help work out what to do.

I don't think you need to leap into a formal grievance at this point. It's not been that long and with 4 different managers involved as well it is more difficult, and it sounds as though no one is taking responsibility for you. Frequently a problem with multiple line management.

However I do think, depending on the response of Big Boss, you need to put your concerns in writing, making all the points you've made here, and giving a reasonable timescale by when you need some clarity about what work you should be doing and your role going forward. You could request a meeting with all 4 managers and Big Boss present to thrash out what's going on. Might that be feasible?

Do you want to stay there if possible?

bunnyrabbit Thu 04-Dec-08 13:54:43

Thanks for the warning shortcircuit.

flowerybeanbag, Checked with big boss again today and he still has not had time to speak to the 3 managers. 1 of them is off today and I think he's also off tomorrow.

I have spoken to a friend of a friend now who is an employment lawyer and have made an appointment to see her next Thursday. Just an initial meeting to see if there is any point/need in taking this further re grievance etc. I am covered for employment contract disputes on my house insurance should I wish to take it this far.

All 3 managers are peddling the same response - no work - none coming up. This cannot be accidental. They've known I was coming back since the day I went on ML so how can they not have anything for me to do.

As to what I want. I need a job. Not that I particularly want to work here but I work in London for a Brokers and jobs are fast disapearing in the financial sector.

If I don't have a job then I need enough cash to tide me over for at least 3 years. So if they offered me what I earned last year as a settlement, I'd take it. Things would be tight, but we could just about cope.

I have not the faintest idea how much to expect should this come to a case of CD or Sexual descrimination... so hence I don't really want to push this.

As to sending him an email. We are all in the same open plan office and he has a small office on the side. So I can see where he sits while I write this. Perhaps I should send him a mail tomorrow if there is still now joy.

If I get personnel involved, I've a feeling I'll be out the door....

Sorry.. very long post!!


flowerytaleofNewYork Thu 04-Dec-08 13:59:27

Why do you think speaking to HR would mean you're 'out the door'? Dismissing you would be impossible without making you redundant, which they might do, but I can't see that speaking to HR is going to make that more likely to happen than it already is. HR don't make the decisions, they advise managers how to achieve what they want safely and appropriate, or if it can be achieved at all.

In terms of constructive dismissal, if you went that route, which you could if you have no favourable response, it would be compensation in terms of financial loss only, so how much would depend how easy it would be to get a job, but in the meantime you'd be without income. If you get a job during the proceedings, which can take months, then compensation would be very limited. In terms of how much compensation awards tend to be at the moment, your solicitor will be able to advise you. 3 years cash sounds over optimistic tbh.

duchesse Thu 04-Dec-08 14:10:35

Also be very careful what you actually do while you are sitting bored at work. Check that you are not breaching your employment contract by going on the internet for personal reasons. I would not put it past any employer to sit and watch you until you commit an incident of misconduct and then begin disciplinary proceedings that will end in your being removed for nothing (vs redundancy package).

Go to your managers every morning and ask what they have for you that morning. If they say nothing, document their response in any way you can, noting date and time. Preferably email them asking for work, and forward their email responses to your outside email address (if you are removed for misconduct, they would probably not allow you time to get any personal info off the mainframe). They took you back because they legally had to, but it sounds to me as though they are trying to squeeze you out. It's what they do in Japanese companies.

bunnyrabbit Thu 04-Dec-08 14:13:30

Hi flowerytaleofNewYork ,
Unfortunately, in the sort of environment I work, HR look out for the company not the individual. Plus, lets just say that I knew my bosses' boss from a previous life, on a business level, when he had a far more humble role and he has pretty much ignored me since he started last year and got rid of another collegue at the beginning of the year (he mentioned CD to them and got a fair wedge for his trouble)

Don't want 3 years money (well I do!!) only 1 year's which I can eek out.

If they make me redundant won't I be on gardening leave until I sign an agreement with them?

But to be honest I need to keep this job hence being patient and playing by the book to allow them to come up with something.

I'm just worried that I'm being too patient and this will somehow count against me.


bunnyrabbit Thu 04-Dec-08 14:15:22

Good point... Will follow up on this thread tonight!! Have already sent emails and log of events to my home address..


duchesse Thu 04-Dec-08 14:32:52

bumping for bunny

flowerytaleofNewYork Thu 04-Dec-08 14:44:06

Well yes, HR work for the company not for the individual, but I'm confused as to how going to them would mean you are 'out the door'? As I said, they don't make the decisions, they carry out and advise on decisions made by management. If you do get either made redundant or have to bring a grievance, HR will have to be involved anyway. It sounds as though your bosses may have decided they don't want you around already, and going to HR should at least reign them in slightly to avoid a tribunal. Anyway, can't see where you'd lose by going to them now.

In terms of whether you'd be on garden leave, that depends. They could make you redundant more or less immediately and pay you in lieu of notice, or could put you on garden leave, or could make you work it.

bunnyrabbit Mon 08-Dec-08 08:16:04

I'm afraid that's how things work in this environment ....

One of my bosses finally found me some work on Friday. Documenting procedures for one of the groups. This is a task I have done before for one of the other groups, whilst doing other projects, but hardly on the lines of the sort of work I was doing before I went on maternity leave, and if this is all they have, where does this leave my future role?

Think I will push their boss on when we can meet up as I think they are going to try and say that all is ok, as I have some work, but I disagree.

Do you think I should push this or just go with the flow??


flowerytaleofNewYork Mon 08-Dec-08 19:40:52

I think you should push for a discussion on your role going forward.

bunnyrabbit Tue 09-Dec-08 08:16:19

Hi flowerytaleofNewYork
I think I will.

....'cos now one of the others has something for me, only he can't tell me what yet, or when, as it's not public knowledge. What is this MI5?????

Do you think I should still meet with my solicitor on Thursday? It'll cost me £100 for the consultation.


flowerytaleofNewYork Tue 09-Dec-08 09:35:55

I think that's a bit premature tbh. When you said it was a friend of a friend, I assumed it was an initial exploratory chat which would be free. Lots of solicitors will give you a free initial consultation anyway, even if they don't know you. You certainly don't need to be paying a solicitor yet.

Push for a meeting or something concrete within a short timescale. If you don't get anywhere, you can then consider bringing a grievance. Not a solicitor yet, particularly if it's going to cost you money.

bunnyrabbit Fri 19-Dec-08 10:50:23

Well, for any one that's interested, I still don't have much to do, although have been promised several projects are coming my way.

I have decided not to push this any further until the new year.

Thanks one and all for your advice.


MerrySquiffness Fri 19-Dec-08 13:56:27

Hey BR. I'm in Investment Banking and had the same when I got back after my second baby. Was annoyed, then relieved, then annoyed, then releived (depending on when my DD was teething). In my case I think everyone was waiting to see if I really really wanted to stay and was able to handle work before giving it to me. And they'd kind of got used to working without me and never got round to adjusting to my return. And tiny things happened that were totally irrelevent, but had me thinking conspiracy theories all over the place (they moved me from the busy side of the dealing floor to the quiet side, and that had me crying in the loo!)

I know my then-boss really well - we have worked together previously in another bank so go back 15 years. I know without a shadow of a doubt that it wasn't intentional discrim of any kind, but it still hurt to find that I wasn't being treated as one of the team any more. You do need to address it, but try not to read too much into it all. They are probably thinking that they are being nice to you by pussy-footing around and not loading you with work.

And I wouldn't try to compromise a way out - it is pretty ugly out there at the moment...

bran Fri 19-Dec-08 14:08:36

Could you transfer to the other department that are not handling the projects you used to handle? If they are so busy that they are taking on new people then they'd probably be glad to have you, plus you might end up with a better boss.

Otherwise, can you access information on projects that are coming up (butter-up the team in the other department so that you have inside info) and get first dibs on them? I used to do that a fair bit when I was still working to try an make sure that most of my work was done for execs that found 'easy'. I would say "X project is coming up and it's very similar to Y project that I did last year (even if it wasn't particularly similar) so it might be most efficient if I do it".

bunnyrabbit Tue 06-Jan-09 10:07:24

Sorry for the delay in replying.. very busy xmas and new year!!

MS - I know what you mean but I don't think these guys are that interested or have even thought about it that much to be honest. I agree that I can't afford to be without a job considering the current climate.

bran - had the same idea and was going to suggest this at my first meeting with HR. Although, I think they're at capacity now.

Have finally been given some more work (DR/BCP documentation/procedures though..) and a new project is supposedly coming my way on Monday. Will give them 2 more weeks to see if anything decent comes up and then suggest the move I think.

In the meantime, I've had a 2nd interview for anothother job which went extremely well and I have another interview on Wednesday!! All go here!!

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.


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