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A newbie needing help/advice. Really long first post sorry - extremely worried

(8 Posts)
MrsSparkly Sun 02-Aug-09 14:05:16

Hello all, I am Janine 36 and live in gorgeous Yorkshire. I am already a mum to four wonderful boys (12,10,9,6) from a previous marriage and got married again in March 09. New hub and I are expecting our first baby next march

However I have a serious issue with my workplace!!

I work for a small company, just the owner, me, and another lady who works one day a week!

I work 16 hours a week over 3 days and used to love my job until I suffered a really horrendous miscarriage in Jan/Feb. My boss was a complete pig about the pregnancy and even worse about the miscarriage with regular comments like 'I thought I was safe employing you because you already have children' and the worst being ' I dont know why you are so upset (about the mc) because the baby was only [--] big' As you can imagine it was a horrible time and he had no right to say anything like that to me but I noted it and didnt take any action. I do not have a contract despite me working there nearly 2 yrs. I accepted the way he was being because I knew would get preg again and would be leaving permantly.

With this pregnancy I have already experienced a bleed (had an early scan all is well) and extreme tiredness and sickness! I am currently on week two of sick leave and the boss isnt paying me anything I have had to claim direct from the government. I am due to go back to work on wednesday this week. Yesterday I received a letter from the boss saying that he is cutting my hours due to a downturn in business to just 8 hours a week.

I will lose £200 a month in wages, nigh on £250 a month in WTC and childcare allowance but will also only be able to claim £38 a week maternity allowance when I go on ML instead of £81.

My question is - Is he allowed to cut my hours whilst I am on sick leave or while I am pregnant! I will of course be on the phone to ACAS tomorrow but I really dont know where I stand!!

Sorry for such a long first post but I am really upset by this and worried that stressing is going to harm my baby!!

flowerybeanbag Sun 02-Aug-09 19:20:35

MrsSparkly whether you are on sick leave or pregnant doesn't make any difference as to whether he is allowed to cut your hours or not.

Reducing your hours is a change to your terms and conditions, and he needs your consent to do that. Have a read here about changing terms and conditions, including the steps your employer must take to do so, and here about if you disagree with a proposed change.

You will see that, provided your employer follows the correct procedure, even if you refuse the change initially, he could potentially force it through if there is a good business reason for the change, which in this economic climate there might be.

However if he isn't following a correct procedure, or if your pregnancy is anything to do with it, for example he's not cutting both his and your colleague's hours as well, then that's not allowed.

As a first step I would write back to your boss saying that you understand that your consent is required to make changes to your terms and conditions, and you are not prepared to consent to this change. Then see what happens. It sounds as though he's a nightmare and probably discriminating against you in terms of his general attitude anyway, but I think the first thing to do is refuse to accept that change while you take stock of what's happening and work out what you want to do.

MrsSparkly Sun 02-Aug-09 21:40:45

Thank you Flowerybeanbag! Love the name by the way!!

Your reply was really helpful and I will do as suggested and write to him.

The reasons he has given for reducing my hours is a downturn in business but as I have access to the business accounts I know that our turnover is the same (this time of year)for this year as in previous years.

I also intend to contact ACAS tomorrow and CAB, I only received the letter from him yesterday and it wasnt ideal to be able to chase up any queries that I have/had!

Thank you again

MrsSparkly Sun 02-Aug-09 21:52:07

Oh I meant to add that he is NOT cutting the other employees ours - just mine!

MrsSparkly Mon 03-Aug-09 09:58:20

An update. After taking advice from ACAS and using the links kindly provided I have emailed my boss with the below, just waiting on a response now shock

Dear Mr Taylor,

I am in receipt of you letter stating that from the 7.8.09 my hours will be cut from 16 hours per week to just 8. I do not agree to these new hours and as my contractual rights state I am allowed to disagree.

I cannot help but feel that this reduction is because I am expecting a baby and that you are not happy about it. I come to this conclusion due to the comments made by yourself with regard to my recent miscarriage and the time that I had to take as sick because of the miscarriage and the fact that I am experiencing problems in this pregnancy as well.

I also feel that the way you did it was a little insensitive, you have promised me in the past that if anything is going to change within the business that will effect me then you will talk to me about it.

Im not sure if you are aware of exactly how this change in hours will effect me. I will lose my right to claim Working Tax Credit (WTC) as well as the loss of earnings. More importantly it will effect the amount of Maternity Allowance (MA) I am able to claim when I go on Maternity Leave (ML) at approximately the end of November. I am also not in a position to be able to find work that will cover the extra 8 hours until my ML commences. You will be leaving me in a very vunerable position with regard to earnings and the potential MA that I can claim

Your reason of a downturn in business would be a valid reason for reducing my hours but as there are other members of staff who have not had their hours cut it is unfair and likely to be classed as discrimination. All members of staff, legally, should be affected especially as their role would also be reduced for a downturn in business. The fact that I know the business is still making on average the same as this time last year I fail to see it as a valid reason. I am aware that the office is much quieter recently but the sales figures show that we are still making on average the same for this time of year.

I am respectfully requesting that you reconsider the decision to cut my hours for the period of my working pregnancy. It will be for a maximum of 4 months and then I will be going onto MA.

I do not feel at the moment that I am fit to return from work and the stresses that I feel you are putting on me are not helping during an already stressful early stage pregnancy. At the moment you are not paying anything to me, due to sick leave, and it is also not going to be GetYerInk that will pay my MA when the time comes.

flowerybeanbag Mon 03-Aug-09 14:16:22

Let us know how you get on MrsSparkly. I think I would have been a bit harsher if I'd been writing the letter if I'm honest! Let's hope you get a good response, do let us know.

WriggleJiggle Mon 03-Aug-09 14:24:32

Did you mean to leave the name of your company on you last post? Might be a good idea to copy the post and repost without mentioning the name. If you click on the red exclamation mark at the side of your post then you can request that MN delete the post where it names the company.

Good luck with everything.

MrsSparkly Mon 03-Aug-09 14:46:59

Thanks again flowerybeanbag!

Wriggle with hindsight maybe I should of asterixed that bit out but to be honest I have not written any untruths so it doesnt matter if it stays!

(plus I cant figure out how to copy and repost as suggested damn preg brain)

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