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Possible discrimination on return to work?

(7 Posts)
Lola1988 Wed 19-Jun-13 16:09:27

Hi, im new to mumsnet and looking for some advice. I am returning to work after 9 months maternity leave. During my final days i was told that i couldnt change to part time hours due to my work being unable to support it. We already have one part time member of staff, works 8.30-2.45 daily as her child is 14 years of age. She has been there for 20+ years and her hours were originally fewer than what they are now. I was told however, that she would have to move to full time hours, as the employer couldnt support it. I spoke with my boss and was told that i could change my hours to 9.30-5.30 meaning a 3 hour difference a week, with my wage being reduced to reflect. I supervise the office aswell as hold an additional training role for new starters across the company. The other woman is under my management, and is standard internal office role. I have today been informed that she has been allowed to keep her part time hours, but that i must return full time. I am now working the two positions, full time, for little more than 2k more than the other woman. Is this legal? My daughter is 8 months and i have a 5 year old son also. I was told also, if i ever were to reduce my hours, i would have to give up my supervisor role. It would save me hundreds a month in childcare if i had the reduced hours, and it is really challenging mentally dealig with two children, working full time when her son is so much older, in high school, can look after himself (to an extent) and her only reason for working part time is that she 'cant handle' full time work. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as i dont know where i stand on legal grounds. I feel i have been treated unfairly and dont see how it can be one rule for her, and another for me. Thanks

DameFanny Wed 19-Jun-13 16:33:33

Not an expert by any means, but it doesn't sound like discrimination to me. Your colleague's established working pattern has nothing to do with the working pattern you're requesting, and if they need a full time supervisor then they can say that if you go part time you'll have to give up that aspect of your work.

Sorry. Can you look at other employers in the area?

Lola1988 Wed 19-Jun-13 16:58:31

I just dont understand though - for 9 months she has continued her working hours but doing my job - is this not proof that my job can be done in reduced hours? Also on returning to work governmet policy docs i have seen that they cant take your role away due to reduced hours after returning from maternity leave. They have to fully consider my application, but they have just dismissed me. I dont think its fair that she can have the hours and salary she wants but i am forced to work full time without any consideration for MY mental being or MY childrens welfare.

lougle Wed 19-Jun-13 17:11:58

There are 7 business grounds for turning down a flexible working application:

-extra costs which will damage the business
-the business won’t be able to meet customer demand
-the work can’t be reorganised among other staff
-people can’t be recruited to do the work
-flexible working will have an effect on quality and performance
-there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
-the business is planning changes to the workforce

The fact that someone has been covering your role on fewer hours does not necessarily mean that the job can be done in those hours, or that the job is done optimally in those fewer hours.

Your colleague's hours may well affect your ability to be accommodated, but it doesn't set a precedent within the business that you can rely on. Each case must be taken on its merits.

Did you set out a proper application with consideration of the difficulties that may arise from your proposal and your proposed solution to reduce those difficulties? For example, someone may say "I appreciate that x business relies on a prompt reply to enquiries and my absence from the office on 2 days per week will affect that. I propose that I check emails twice per day on my days off and flag any urgent issues to <y person on duty>, then prioritise any other issues upon my return to the office."

Lola1988 Wed 19-Jun-13 17:21:23

I havent done that yet, it was just agreed verbally then issued with a formal letter. I didnt argue as i had thought it wsnt feasible to ask for part time, given that the one part timer was being made to go full time. I have been told this under false pretences i believe.

Do i have any leg to stand on if it goes the whole 9 yards? How can it be 'fair' that i can be working two positions, full time, for 2k more than her? I manage her, i deal with her appraisals etc

Thanks for your advice - it is very much appreciated as i dont want to go into this all guns blazing to be shot down...

lougle Wed 19-Jun-13 17:24:51

"Do i have any leg to stand on if it goes the whole 9 yards? How can it be 'fair' that i can be working two positions, full time, for 2k more than her? I manage her, i deal with her appraisals etc"

Nope, all of that is irrelevant. That's between you and your bosses. If you don't like it and it's what you're contracted to do, then your choices are to renegotiate (unlikely) or leave.

Obviously if they are piling more and more work on you and you feel that it is done to force you out then you may have a claim for constructive dismissal, but that would be quite a leap and very hard to pursue a claim successfully.

Lola1988 Wed 19-Jun-13 17:35:19

Thanks. I think i may take a trip to citizens advice and contact my lawyer before bringing this up to my employer

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