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Job disappearing before my eyes, what do I do?

(13 Posts)
stellamel Wed 07-Oct-09 15:29:50

I have worked in the same company for 11 years. I was full time until I had my DD 4 years ago, I now work 3 days a week.

Short history. I work for a smallish advertising agency. 8 years ago the 2 directors started up a subsidiary company selling golf insurance under a membership scheme. The golf side of the business started off at a steady pace, but with the appointment of new senior staff over the last couple of years has now taken off massively. The agency side of the business (where I work as a graphic designer), started to decline steadily. The new senior management had no interest in this side of the business, and finally it was moth balled - we still hold a couple of existing clients, but no new business has been taken on.

The graphics studio now solely does in-house work for the golf side of the company.

However lately I have noticed a steady decline in my work load. This is mainly because of a shift towards electronic advertising in the form of email-shots, websites etc. The traditional print side is now a rarity. I am the 'traditional' designer, not the web side of things. I am not trained to use dreamweaver, flash etc. and the company has no training policy, and wouldn't if asked (have before), they chose to employ someone else, rather than re-train me. This was in part to do with my being part time.

So the brutal truth is I am scraping around for work to do, and it really is that bad. Some days I have NOTHING to do at all, and have to make myself look busy. I don't think the big boss realises the situation yet, but my immediate boss (creative director) must know, as he is responsible for the work that goes into the studio.

To add to this I go on maternity leave at the beginning of Dec, my BB has agreed to me returning to 3 days a week next Sept as usual.

Now I am the longest standing member of the company by a country mile. The CD has only been here 18 months, and at the moment this is probably what is stopping him saying to the big boss that there is basically no job for me anymore. I am sort of seen as a national treasure/charity case (or maybe that's just my interpretation). hmm

So what do I do? Do I ask to talk to BB, explain situation and see what he says. If I am made redundant now I won't get maternity, and my redundancy will be minimal. Or do I struggle on with pretending to have work and hope the CD doesn't finally go to BB about me.

Finally what happens if I make it to maternity and then while I'm away BB realises that there is no job for me to come back to - what then?

Part time work in advertising is a rare thing. I am hanging on by my nails and in a total panic about it.

Sorry for long post, but just don't know what the hell to do! sad

itsmeolord Wed 07-Oct-09 15:32:08

Have you considered funding your own training? Is that viable?

stellamel Wed 07-Oct-09 15:34:03

No, it's hugely expensive, and they wouldn't let me do it in work time, which means I'd have to get another day of childcare so I could go to college

Northernlurker Wed 07-Oct-09 15:39:11

I think your position is stronger than you think. If you are due to go on maternity leave in December even if they were planning to make you redundant then by the time they've done the formalities you would definately be entitled to maternity leave and SMP plus your redundancy. If you've worked there for 11 years then the least they can pay you is I think 11 weeks wages - which is tax free so equivalent to what 18 weeks net at the moment? Also making pregnant women redundant is a bit of a minefield - flowerybeanbag could advise you better about that but my understanding is that they have to demonstrate beyond doubt that not only does your job not exist but that they can't redeploy you. Your rights are quite well protected. If they are witholding training from you because of your part time status then I think you may have grounds for sex discrimination and unfair treatment. Employing sombody to do a job full time is one thing, stopping you from advancing in your job because you're part time is definately another. Do you have a HR department?

BonsoirAnna Wed 07-Oct-09 15:39:46

You need to start looking for another job to start when your maternity leave is up.

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 07-Oct-09 15:47:45

Agree with northen and flowery is the one to wait for.

stellamel Wed 07-Oct-09 17:28:21

off home now, I'll check back tmrw for advice smile

flowerybeanbag Wed 07-Oct-09 20:11:51

I think it's very unlikely they'll be considering making you redundant before you go on maternity leave. If they do, as long as you are still in employment at the 15th week before your due date, you will get SMP for 39 weeks even if your employment ends.

You don't have any extra protection against redundancy as a pregnant woman - obviously you can't be discriminated against, but in terms of decisions about redundancy the same applies as with any other member of staff - as long as the redundancy is genuine, selection is fair, and a reasonable procedure is followed that's fine.

When actually on maternity leave you do have a little bit of extra protection, in that if your job is redundant you must get 'first dibs' on anything else that is available - you can't be made to compete for available vacancies with other employees.

I think the most likely scenario here is that while you are on maternity leave it will become clear to the relevant people that actually they don't need you any more and they will take some time to work out what they want to do about it.

No one has a right to training, so employing a new member of staff to perform tasks that an existing member of staff is not trained to do isn't discriminatory at all, and if they needed someone to do those tasks on a full time basis and the existing member of staff was only part time, that's not discriminatory either, that's fair enough.

If there were two existing members of staff, one part time, one full time, and the full timer was getting loads of training and support with their career but the part timer wasn't, that's when it might be discrimination.

If you do get made redundant, you'll get 11 weeks' redundancy pay to a maximum of £380 for a week's pay. That would be tax-free. You would also be entitled to at least 11 weeks' notice, which they could obviously get you to work (unless you are on mat leave) but may well choose to pay in lieu instead. That part may or may not be taxable depending on what your contract says.

So the amount you'd get wouldn't be minimal, and either way you'll get your SMP for 39 weeks as well, so it's not necessarily such a horrendous position to be in as you are thinking. I think probably your best bet is to keep yourself as busy as possible, go on maternity leave, have your baby and take some time during your leave to work out your next steps. It does seem likely you will be made redundant at some point, so taking the oppportunity of maternity leave to work out a personal plan for your own next steps once you're ready to come back to work seems sensible.

Northernlurker Wed 07-Oct-09 21:45:02

Thank goodness you're around flowery - I obviously had mixed up redundancy whilst pregnant with redundancy on mat leave!

The training thing seems very dubious to me though - I suppose it depends what the op has been told but it sounds like she has asked for training and been refused it on the grounds of her part time status. If they have provided training for other full time employees would that strengthen her case at all - even though they would be in very different roles? Would it have to be a designer role for comparison do you think?

flowerybeanbag Thu 08-Oct-09 09:32:55

Not good about the training I agree, but just going by what the OP said, it's not a case of them being a decent provider of training generally but refusing her because of her part time status specifically.

It sounds instead as though they decided they needed someone to do Dreamweaver and Flash, and took the decision that they'd prefer to recruit someone new coming in with those skills and probably experience as well, who can do the job full time rather than go to the expense and trouble of training up an existing member of staff who can only do part time anyway and would take a while to get up to speed and perform at the same level. Whether that was a good business decision to fill that specific gap that way remains debatable, especially if they end up having to fork out redundancy pay for the OP as well as recruitment costs for this new person, but I don't think it's discrimination, no.

If they as an employer were providing training and development in a more general sense to staff but were denying this to the OP because as a part timer they felt she wasn't worth the investment, or something, then I agree that might well be discrimination, and I don't think it would necessarily have to be a very similar role either.

stellamel Fri 09-Oct-09 11:00:43

Wow, thanks flowery - you have been a lot of help, glad you spotted my cry for hep. I feel less panicky now I know I'll still be able to get SMP. I have been going to college to retrain since March, 1 day a week, it's a different direction career wise, but more suitable to my changing situation. I have been anticipating redundancy for a while to be honest, so have been making contingency plans.

I don't think they have been discrimiatory either, I do understand it's more preferrable to have a full time staff member trained in the relevant packages than me, and I bear no ill will, or grudge. Was just desperate to know I could go on maternity leave and still get my SMP, otherwise I'd have been stymied. I am 28 weeks pregnant so the 15 week rule will apply to me, which makes me feel a lot better.

Thanks for the advice.

One more question - whilst on maternity leave, just saying the CD doesn't mention to my boss that there's essentially no job for me anymore (and I can imagine that happening and the boss would still be unaware of the work issue), would it be foolish or prudent of me to have a meeting with my boss and bring the situation to his attention?

Many thanks to all for their advice x

flowerybeanbag Fri 09-Oct-09 11:07:48

If the boss doesn't become aware during your maternity leave, if you do then make him aware yourself you are probably fairly likely to be made redundant. If he genuinely doesn't notice, and no one including you brings it to his attention, then you may not be made redundant and will have a 'job' to go back to.

So in terms of whether you say anything, I certainly wouldn't at least until your mat leave is over. You will continue to get SMP throughout regardless, but if you stay employed during that time you will also get all your benefits including paid holiday. So even if you do get made redundant there is an advantage in it being as late as possible.

Glad to hear you are pursuing contingency plans, I think that's positive even if no one does notice; trying to 'work' without any work to do and constantly worrying about being made redundant isn't a good situation to be in anyway. The ideal situation would probably be you finding something else at some point in the next year and being able to go back to work from maternity leave with renewed vigour, enthusiasm and confidence that you are adding value to your employer.

stellamel Fri 09-Oct-09 11:38:25

cheers flowery, fantastic advice, I will keep schtum and see how it plays out.

many thanks once again for your help smile

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