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Have I been discriminated against for going on maternity leave? Or is this reasonable?

(13 Posts)
TheScatterGunApproach Sat 18-Jul-09 19:24:11

I have just found out (at the pub!!) that everyone in my department except for me got a bonus.

My performance appraisal was overwhelmingly positive (all Excellent and Very Good rating, plus very positive comments form co-workers.

I was on maternity leave for six months of the appraisal period and am now back at work three days a week.

I guess it could be company policy that I am not eligible for a bonus, but if this is the case why did someone not just tell me so?

I would really appreciate any advice.

foxinsocks Sat 18-Jul-09 19:33:44

you need flowery for this

bonuses are a funny one because one of the conditions of maternity leave is that you are entitled to your contractual terms other than wages or salary (because of paying SMP)

when was your baby born?

There have been a number of legal cases about bonuses and maternity leave. I think it can depend on the terms and conditions of the bonus scheme (and whether it's a contractual right or not).

I think if it relates to some time that you were working (performance wise), then you have more of a case iyswim.

But don't take my word for it at all!

trixymalixy Sat 18-Jul-09 19:47:10

It really depends on your bonus scheme rules. Where I worked it used to be that it was pro rata depending on how much of the year you had worked.

There has been some new legislation which came into force for babies due after 1st october 2008 IIRC which states that you are entitled to all contractual benefits apart from salary. I don't know whether bonuses would be affected by that though.

I would definitely be querying it when you are next in work.

Frizbe Sat 18-Jul-09 19:52:27

Get hold of your contract and read the small print, it should state in there, or in your companies Co Handbook exactly what you're entitled to and when you are eligable and when you're not. If its a grey area then you may be able to negotiate something.

flowerybeanbag Sat 18-Jul-09 19:58:42

It does depend to an extent on the terms of the bonus scheme, however performance-related bonuses would usually be payable on a pro-rata basis, so you would get a proportion of it depending on for how much of the bonus year you were at work.

What information do you have about the bonus scheme, or information about bonuses in your contract?

TheScatterGunApproach Sat 18-Jul-09 20:16:06

I think it's basically at the manager's discretion.

This particular manager did not speak to me for a year and a half after I announced my pregnancy and has told two women that they have no career ambition as they married in their mid-twenties.

flowerybeanbag Sat 18-Jul-09 22:16:42

So there is nothing written anywhere about how bonuses work in your company? Have a read of this factsheet, there is a whole section about bonuses and commission payments. You should be able to identify where this particular bonus fits in, as I said, if it's performance-related or something, as it sounds from your OP, then the chances are you are entitled to a pro rata proportion of it.

OnceWasSquiffy Sat 18-Jul-09 23:47:45

I work in an environment where bonuses are everything. If your bonus is completely discretionary as you say, then your not receiving a bonus is a very big problem for them in terms of sex discrimination. There has been bits and pieces of case law around this but I confess I don't have them filed at home ('Nomura' is ringing a bell). There is limited case law though because a lot of discretionary bonus stuff gets settled before it comes to court. Basically, if there is a clear relatinship between performance targets and bonuses then pro-rata is the norm; if it is a completely open arrangement written into your contract terms in a very flowery way (as is often the case, as it means they can usually avoid paying anything if they don't want to) then it is actually much better for you, as the argument goes that the only reason that you didn't receive a bonus was because you are female (given that men cannot currently go on extended maternity leave). Because I am a manager I have attended workshops ahead of bonus decisions where our magic circle lawyers give us all the latest do's and don'ts. They are always very clear in virtually ordering our mgmt team to give women who have been on maternity leave full (not pro-rated) bonuses, as any alternative leaves them in hot water. Saying that, I do know that many companies follow a 'pro-rata' route and this seems to be accepted as the norm (I am not sure though that it is backed up by legal precedent in anything other than contractual commission-type cases)

At any tribunal, once there is potentially evidence of discrimnation then the onus is on the company to prove that your treatment was not due to your gender, rather than it being your obligation to prove that it was IYSWIM. They may have lots of 'hidden' policies that decide who gets what and it is possible that this could be used as a defence, but most companies would be loathe to bring these into the public domain if they had them.

I would be tempted to make quite a lot of noise about this first thing Monday.

OnceWasSquiffy Sun 19-Jul-09 00:22:08

This is the case I was thinking of. But it is more or less the only case of its kind, and the whole area is not 100% clear. Another famous case - Madarassy - went the other way but that was before this BNP case was heard (and it was slightly different in details)

RibenaBerry Sun 19-Jul-09 09:37:49

Scattergun - Squiffy and Flowery are right, the issue of full or pro rated bonus gets debated. However, are you saying you got no bonus at all? My first step would be to challenge that and then work from there on amounts. Contact your manager and ask why you were treated differently...

TheScatterGunApproach Sun 19-Jul-09 10:59:26

thank you so much all for your help.

I will tackle this first thing. I will just ask why I got no bonus and take it from there.

sobloodystupid Sun 19-Jul-09 17:13:06

Am angry for you. Hope all goes well tomorrow!

thefatladyscreams Sun 19-Jul-09 17:30:12

TheScatterGunApproach - I used to be a HR manager in the city years ago so caveat that my knowledge is very out of date.

But our policy was that not awarding a bonus (on a pro-rata basis for time worked) was discriminatory. Our bonus scheme was non discretionary and had nothing in writing (typical investment bank). Remember well arguing with a manager who wanted to award nothing to a high performing sales person just because she was on maternity leave at the time bonuses were awarded, despite having a great performance for the 6 months she had worked.

I'd start with asking the question.

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