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help re redundancy consultation on maternity leave... by phone????

(7 Posts)
omaoma Tue 23-Jun-09 09:52:36

hi can anyone help? i'm in a complicated redundancy situation but have an urgent question on something hopefully quite straightforward! is my employer being unreasonable in trying to set a date for a redundancy consult that isn't suitable for me? full details: pls excuse length of post. i'm on maternity leave from a small project team of 2. my employers advised me at end of May of my potential redundancy at end of June. the redundancy terms are statutory only. The other worker on the project was informed before me and is already challenging them formally for a (hoped for) payout on basis of unfavourable contract terms (that she has been denied better conditions due to their other employees because we are employed on sep contract as a standalone project). Finding a date for first formal consultation meet was complicated by fact I was going on holiday for 10 days a week after I was informed and they weren't able to come up with a suggested date for meeting until 24 hours before i went; the suggested date was 3 days after my return (24th/25th june). I have been desperately trying to get official legal advice on my position to prepare for the formal consultation but am having probs getting this. (even if my colleague's challenge doesn't apply, i believe there is definite sexual discrimination in my case, due to my maternity leave, for various reasons.) so I explained to employers i couldn't arrange for childcare in that time available before i went away and that my supporter wasn't available until the following week (end june). i want a paritcular person i know to be my supporter in the meeting as i think it's going to be difficult and they have legal experience; they have a family and job so hard to get hold of. (privately, i also wanted a bit more time than employers were giving me to prepare for the meeting after the hol but didn't say this. ) i suggested 30th june or 1st july instead and they said they'd hold those dates for me to confirm on my return. now i've returned they are pushing for the meeting to happen this week; they keep saying it can be done by phone as a conference call, or at my home (ie with my baby there) - neither of which i think does me any favours given complicated scenario. the person i want to support me is now only available 1st july and i have asked again if it could be that date. am i being unreasonable? are they being disciminatory in not being able to accommodate my needs while on maternity leave? does the meeting have to happen before end june legally?? they haven't mentioned anything about why they want meeting earlier altho i assume it's becuase they want me out of the way quickly...

flowerybeanbag Tue 23-Jun-09 10:08:22

The problem is if the redundancy is due to happen at the end of the month, you can understand why they want to consult with you as soon as possible, and quite rightly so.

Also, from what you say, they did give you two weeks' notice of the original meeting. That's not unreasonable really on the face of it, especially given the tight timescale they were on.

You are entitled to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official, however that doesn't mean you can delay the meeting unreasonably because one specific person is only available on one day, a day after the consultation period has ended. Again, quite a lot of notice was given for you to give your supporter, and it could well be reasonable of them to say that if this particular supporter isn't available to help you even with two weeks' notice, you need to choose someone else.

I think given they are also happy to either do the meeting as a conference call or even to come to your home, and given that the potential redundancy is supposed to be the end of this month, it would be difficult to claim they are not making every effort to accommodate your needs tbh.

Why is your supporting person so unavailable? Can they really not rejig things a bit to be there for you this week? Specifying one day, beyond the consultation period, that they can do the meeting is really very restrictive of them.

Is there anyone else you could have with you? You mention that you are struggling to get legal advice - why is that? It might be better to wait to get that until after you've had the meeting anyway - rather than talk about potential issues that might arise, go to a solicitor with actual facts and details of your employers actual actions, rather than potential ones.

omaoma Tue 23-Jun-09 10:18:45

hey thanks for this, i appreciate your input. my supporting person's mum is having an operation and so she is away caring for her from now til 1st. i will prob take my husband if we have to have meeting earlier but it does seem the case that anyone suitable i know, including him, has work and family commitments that make it difficult to get time off!

i'm trying to get legal advice on my home insurance via a helpline and they keep not phone me back - just rang them again now and they took my details again so hopefully i'll get a call back this time.

i hear what you're saying about their making efforts, i just can't imagine successfully going through this discussion on the phone but maybe it would actually be helpful as i don't have much of a poker face... i have said i can't have the meet with baby around as that would just be impossible to deal with. also they had originally ok'd the dates of 30th june/1st july so annoyed they are going back on it when i had managed to get childcare sorted for these days.

omaoma Tue 23-Jun-09 10:20:19

oh also meant to add: my colleague who has already had her meeting said it was really difficult and they tried to bully her - hence why i want my supporter to be somebody who really knows their onions!

flowerybeanbag Tue 23-Jun-09 10:26:21

I know what you mean about people having commitments, but from your employer's point of view they have actually given you a reasonable amount of notice to find someone who hasn't or can manage to get out of them iyswim, even if it can't be your first choice.

What about them coming to your home? Just thinking in terms of childcare that would mean the actual time you'd need someone else to watch the baby would be very short, literally the duration of the meeting. Does the baby have a nap in the afternoon or anything - childcare then might be a case of getting a neighbour to be in charge of the monitor for an hour or so. Think creatively about how you could possibly do it this week minimising the impact on you, including picking the time of day to suit you or anything else that might help.

It is irritating I agree, but I do think that given the circumstances you'd find it difficult to claim they were being unreasonable that's the problem.

You may find that your legal cover on your house insurance doesn't kick in in the event of redundancy until it's actually been confirmed anyway - I know several people who were concerned they may be dismissed who have been told to go away again until they actually have been.

omaoma Tue 23-Jun-09 11:55:53

ok the insurance lawyer got back to me and agrees that i need to make myself available so will attempt to do so.

fyi my home insurance is with the post office and they offer a free helpline to customers with employment cover which seems to kick in if you just want advice at any point.

cheers flowery

RibenaBerry Wed 24-Jun-09 12:51:03

Do also bear in mind that the statute on the right to be accompanied (which actually only covers colleagues and trade union officials, so you are lucky if your husband is allowed to do this) says that a postponement of up to 5 days must be given if the accompanying person is unavailable (i.e. one postponement of up to 5 days). Although the employer still has to be reasonable, if they comply with the statutory rule, they are likely to be seen as behaving reasonably.

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