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Maternity leave cover not leaving dilemma

(10 Posts)
MillieCow Wed 08-Jul-09 01:40:21

Hello - just looking for some quick advice/opinions. I went on maternity leave for a year and when I returned my cover was still in situ. This was 4 months ago and my cover is still here, not on a permanent contract and indeed on some sort of flexible hours rolling arrangement, apparently terminable on 1 week's notice (whereas my contract is permanent and terminable on 3 months notice).

I like this person and indeed would like them to stay on but know for a fact (as he has told me to my face) that my boss vastly prefers the cover to me, the other person being a lot (and I mean A LOT) more senior than me.

At what point does my cover STOP being my "cover" and therefore may be retained whilst I get made redundant? This is a real concern as my boss has explicitly said that we are "overmanned" and we are very quiet at the moment, most particularly me, since when new work comes in my boss invariably gives it to the other person, whereas I have to constantly remind him that I have capacity.

My boss has said several times that the other person will be leaving at some point, but that point doesn't seem to be on the horizon, it's all rather nebulous.

There's another edge to this in that I want more flexible working - I want 2 full days a week off and I believe that if the other person stays, as he too wants a day off a week (at the moment he has flexible hours), that we could arrange something between us that would mean we could both work flexibly and my boss wouldn't lose his favoured worker. But I am afraid that suggesting that might lead to my exit.

Any advice anyone? Sorry if this is rather rambling!

lilyrose123 Wed 08-Jul-09 07:36:24

check out the ACAS website for advice on applying for flexible working, your boss would be very foolish to try and let you go after a flexible working application, esp if they are as he says overmanned as you are merely helping by reducing your hours?
you could suggest a couple of options within your application such as a job share with the cover person?
or you couls casually drop it into conversation see how your boss responds first before you go down the offical leter writing route, but even if he is amenable you should still write the letter so you have a record.
you can phone ACAS too they are very helpful
or look at john wright's website for employment law he is epmloyment law expert that runs a charitable website to help people he helped me a lot cos i had loads of probs going back to work, also if you in union your rep should help you?

flowerybeanbag Wed 08-Jul-09 08:57:30

There's nothing necessarily wrong with keeping your maternity cover on longer or even permanently if your manager feels he needs to do that. The only problem would be if you were made redundant rather than him and it was as a direct result of your maternity leave. But you are not saying anything to indicate any reason to believe that will happen at the moment.

Not sure why you think asking for flexible working will get you dismissed? That would certainly be unfair for a start, but if you feel there is not enough capacity for both of you and your colleague also wants a day off a week, then that sounds like it could potentially work very well. Perhaps your boss is keeping this person on for a while on a rolling basis thinking you might want flexible working and preferring if so to use this other person for a job share or similar rather than have to recruit elsewhere.

MillieCow Wed 08-Jul-09 23:32:45

Thanks you two.

I already have a (very begrudgingly given) flexible working arrangement but I have to work 5 days a week just reduced hours on 2 days. My application for flexible working was received very badly before I returned from mat leave and I think I only managed to get this because legally he knew he had to have a very real business reason to say no. Since my return he has mentioned several times that he believes my position should be full time. He also said he doesn't believe in job share. But I am thinking now that as he has a preference for this other worker that my new idea could make things work for all of us. Just wondering if I will anger him and thus rock the boat unnecessarily. My fear then is that this will lead to my exit with my "cover" being kept on instead of me.

So how would I know if I was made redundant that it was directly related to my mat leave? How would that be if it happened in 3 months time? If he refuses reduced hours for me but keeps this guy on, and we are quiet and there isn't work enough for both of us, then you can see why I am afraid. There is very poor morale where I work at the moment, there have been a fair few redundancies - whilst I was on mat leave incidentally. Would a redundancy in this situation indicate it was related to my going on maternity leave?

Sorry for going on and still grateful for all or any opinions.

flowerybeanbag Thu 09-Jul-09 09:08:16

If there isn't enough work for both of you, you had already proposed a significant reduction in your hours which was refused and were then made redundant coupled with the fact that he indicated a preference for your colleague, then yes that might indicate that your redundancy was because you went on maternity leave.

If he 'doesn't believe' in job share but there clearly isn't enough work for two full time members of staff and you want to reduce your hours, you could just phrase your request like that, rather than calling it a job share, propose that your hours are reduced and demonstrate that this will work because there is currently another member of staff doing the same work and there is therefore capacity for you to reduce your hours without negative impact on the business.

lilyrose123 Thu 09-Jul-09 09:09:53

i see what you saying, it would be difficult to prove, but i think if you make everything official as in the form of letters it makes it more obvious if he ever did let you go instead of the cover, and you wanted to appeal or take things further your letters and the ones you get back of him, could be used as sort of evidence? better than trying to prove what was said, plus if you go to union rep and get them on side like the more you bring it to attention the harder it will be for him to do it?
you could write a letter for flexible working asking for a job share, he would then have to give you a valid business reason why he could not support this?
of course this would have to be agreed with 'the cover' too

MillieCow Sat 11-Jul-09 12:04:59

Thanks again for your advice. I would be grateful for opinions on a further aspect of this situation please. The other worker as I explained has a reduced hours contract, think he is employed via an agency actually but at the moment does something like 10 to 4 every day. He told me he is going to ask our boss for a full day off a week instead. Now.... if he gets this would it give me any right to go and "complain" that my request for a FULL day out of office (remember I only get two half days) has been flatly refused - or at least, nore diplomatically, to reopen negotiations for this (even though my flexible work application was made about 8 months ago)?? Is it complicated at all by the fact that my boss is still insisting that at some (undefined point) it will be just me and him and he therefore needs me to be available every day?

Maybe there is no answer to this, I would just be interested if anyone does have any ideas, even just hunches really.

Thanks again

flowerybeanbag Sun 12-Jul-09 20:25:57

It's all a bit hypothetical really. If your agency temp colleague reduces his hours it doesn't give you the right to complain about an 8 month-old flexible working decision, no. But I think you need to look at the whole picture really, and try to sort something out that will suit everyone. Seems to me as though that should be possible. Your boss (you think) is keen to keep your colleague on, at least at the moment. You want less hours. Your colleague wants less hours. There's not enough work for you both at the moment anyway.

I think you need to have a bit of a definitive discussion about this and sort it out, rather than worrying about what your rights are if x,y or z might happen. There is a potential solution here to suit you, I think your best bet is to work to achieving it in the best way you can, by taking the initiative.

MillieCow Sun 12-Jul-09 22:06:43

Thanks Flowery. I hope that I will get an opportunity to raise my idea soon - it's just getting the timing right I guess. If it all pans out I will remember to come back on here and report! I guess if it doesn't I should do that too...

Interesting that I can't complain if the other worker gets reduced hours when I asked for them and was refused ... at least knowing this means I won't now storm in and probably cause a train wreck!!

flowerybeanbag Mon 13-Jul-09 07:38:38

Thing is that was 8 months ago. A lot can change in 8 months so a request that was refused then doesn't necessarily have bearing on something that is accepted now. Particularly as you say yourself that there is not enough work, so it would almost seem strange not to reduce the agency temp's hours rather than the other way around.

Storming in and causing a train wreck definitely not the best way to get what you want imo. A constructive, thought-out suggestion that meets the needs of the business is the way to go.

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