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Been back at work a week and discover I am now my maternity cover's assistant!

(50 Posts)
AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 12:40:39

So, was told last week, as there have been some changes, that I would be reporting in to the guy who covered my maternity leave (who has since been promoted). Slightly annoyed but thought, hey I'm getting paid, who cares?
Today I come into the office and have been cc'd on an email from him to a regional manager saying "please send future requests to AugustMoon who is now my assistant".
Am I right to be absolutely fucking livid about this? At the very least (if this is allowed, which it can't be surely?) I should have been told about it before my return....?
Advice please.

Bambamb Fri 27-Sep-13 10:42:43

That's exactly what I was going to say. If he was given a promotion you should have been given the opportunity to apply for it too.

strawberryfool Wed 25-Sep-13 22:36:21

Just browsing this post - bit late now maybe but I'm sure there is some sort of rule at my work about being made aware of all vacancies whether you are on leave or not. This gives everyone a chance to apply for the job - I think you should have at least been made aware of this post coming up.
Hope it's working out!

ChasedByBees Mon 02-Sep-13 20:28:14

You've got some really good advice here OP and I don't think I can add anything except I hope you fight them on this!

wearingatinhat Mon 02-Sep-13 20:05:26

As an HR professional, I would say that this is very risky territory for your Company.

At very least, I would expect someone from senior management to have explained the situation to you and to have confirmed that there is no loss of status etc, issued a new job description or to have confirmed that your job has remained unchanged.

Factors to consider:

How large is your Company? Do they have a professional HR Department?
What sort of communication did you agree to when you went off on maternity leave? How much contact have they had with you? When you went on maternity leave, what was put in writing about your return? What sort of correspondence has there been since and what did they put in writing when they confirmed your return. The larger the Company, then the higher the expectation and onus on them to act professionally and have sophisticated policies and procedures in place.

Status is an important part of terms and conditions being 'no less favourable'. By that, if your new boss is now attending meetings that you previously attended as a Manager then that is a demotion. Your job cannot be materially of a lower status. It would all hinge on how your current job description and whether that has materially changed due to the changed reporting structure. An example might be if you managed a team, held budgets, were responsible for achieving certain business objectives, were involved in monthly reporting and as such, attended senior management meetings as a member of the senior management team. If your boss now has all these responsibilities then that 'could' constitute a demotion and constructive dismissal. If you were able to argue that you have been treated less favourably because of your sex and the taking of maternity leave, then there is no limit on the compensation that you could be entitled to. I must say though, that this is a highly complex area of law (proving constructive dismissal and sex discrimination) and I would urge you, if you are thinking of going down this route to get a good Solicitor who specialises in this area.

However, I would add that this sort of situation is quite common, in my experience, with many of my friends being 'made redundant' during maternity leave.

You seem to be taking it well- best of luck!

BranchingOut Sun 01-Sep-13 08:36:43

Can you get away with sending around an email to everyone, just saying 'I am now back from mat leave, resuming my role as Assistant Manager with responsibility for X, Y and Z. Looking forward to working with you all.'?

samuraispider Tue 27-Aug-13 22:07:00

Just my two penneth...

If someone said my Assistant I would think they meant their PA or EA.

He should be saying... speak to the Assistant Manager...

A CEO wouldn't call the Operations Director 'my Operations Director' because he would sound like a twat.

Stand your ground. He's trying to assert his authority to see what he can get away with.

TheDoctrineOfJetlag Tue 20-Aug-13 21:10:18

Op, you don't have to ask in front of anyone - print out the email and take it with you to a one to one meeting with HR or the person who was previously your line manager so you can refer to it if they ask why you want your job description clarified.

It could be bad communication between management and this guy, it could be clumsy wording, it could be deliberate. Asking for clarification is fine.

OP has said she is fine for this person to have been promoted, Tas.

CreatureRetorts Tue 20-Aug-13 20:23:51

Tas, you don't shorten assistant manager to assistant. That's not what is happening here anyway.

SauceForTheGander Tue 20-Aug-13 19:44:20

Don't let this blow over. I wouldn't be surprised if he's threatened by your return so he's trying to play mindgames and attempting to assert himself by putting you down.

Reconfirm your job title and don't take this lying down.

My career still hasn't recovered from being slowly squeezed out after my return. I wish I'd been more assertive but I was tired and lacked confidence.

titchy Tue 20-Aug-13 16:28:57

I think you need clarification from HR or whoever before going off on one tbh.

As you have returned on the same salary etc and have had no notification of any change to job description or job title it is quite reasonable to assume you remain the assistant manager.

It could be that he is a wanker throwing his weight about, or equally he could have just worded the email badly, and may well be mortified to find out you interpreted that sentence in such a way.

TBH he could well have meant 'My assistant manager' when he typed the email so don't go off at the deep end.

edam Tue 20-Aug-13 16:15:42

Tas - think of the difference between 'deputy head' and 'headteacher's assistant'. I think everyone would grasp that the deputy head is a teacher one down in seniority terms from the head, while the head's assistant is a secretary.

edam Tue 20-Aug-13 16:14:11

Tas - I think 99% of people understand that an assistant manager /deputy manager is a grade. While 'my assistant' or 'my PA' is a support/admin role. They are two different things.

Tasmania Tue 20-Aug-13 14:27:39

So why call an 'assistant manager' such, if there's no 'assisting' involved at all?!? Wouldn't you then just be a 'manager'? For what it's worth... if people get crossed being an 'assistant' manager, maybe they should change the title to Associate or something...

CreatureRetorts Tue 20-Aug-13 07:31:00

Let's not pretend we dont know what assistant really means. My boss doesn't call me his assistant - that would imply that I help out. Deputy has a different meaning.

Tasmania Tue 20-Aug-13 03:34:26

Replace 'assistant' in 'assistant manager' with 'deputy' (i.e. deputy manager).

Would people be outraged by being called a 'deputy'? Are people not taking titles just a little too much to heart?

twirliedobbit Tue 20-Aug-13 03:19:41

Please don't take this. I made that mistake and ended up very sorry just wish I had the guts to do something about it. Went back in a more junior role cause things had moved around and my role 'didn't exist' any longer. Found out that the temp I thought they had got in was actually permenant and was doing my role!
Grrrrr get it sorted soon as. The innocent (passive aggressive) card is a perfect one in this scenario.

CreatureRetorts Tue 20-Aug-13 03:07:06

I wouldn't call anyone who worked for me "my assistant" unless they were. That's patronising and rude. He's clearly a piss taker.

Get a job description and get job hunting.

NapaCab Tue 20-Aug-13 02:49:38

Don't be embarrassed to say anything, Moon. Don't let someone talk down to you like that or he'll just walk all over you and you'll be the one out of a job or hating every minute of a menial boring job.

Be assertive with him and make it clear that unless you have information in writing on your role change, your title remains 'assistant x manager'.

Saying 'my assistant' implies you are his secretary especially as he is a man and you're a woman. PP's suggestion of going over his head to say 'oh Maternity Cover Guy seems to be mistaken and is referring to me as his assistant - obviously my status hasn't changed since I was on mat leave or anything, has it? You would have sent me a letter or something if it had of of course!' and so on. Nip it in the bud anyway or this cocky little so and so will have you making his coffee soon!

Tasmania Tue 20-Aug-13 02:16:27

Sorry, but what exactly is wrong here? He just referred to you as his "assistant". It does not mean you are his PA (personal assistant)! If he is a 'manager' and you are the 'assistant manager', then yes, you are 'second in line to the throne', and your job is to assist the manager make day-to-day decisions (including responding to requests he would otherwise get asked) while he/she deals with higher level ones.

A personal assistant would normally deal with time-keeping, answering calls, booking transport/hotels, taking minutes - I am not sure what you expect?

I believe the fact that he includes you in the email is encouraging, considering there would be plenty of people out there who would stop including you in any emails, and sort of slowly 'oust you out' by not giving you any work at all...

Two years is a long time to be away. I have moved up several levels in my company over the course of two years, and expect to do so in future. You could not have expected the guy to stay in the same position for two years - or even be demoted once you returned.

For what it's worth - a few colleagues have only recently returned from maternity leave (less than a year). In one case, the maternity cover moved up a level on her return (both reporting to the same person, but the maternity cover is now permanent staff and more senior). In another case, her whole team has changed (including her manager), and she pretty much knew none of her team members when she got back...

PurplePidjin Mon 19-Aug-13 17:45:58

People? I'd do it in confidence 1:1. You'd need your brass balls on though, even if you sneak off to the loo and cry afterwards!

And make sure you keep a record of everything

Bakingnovice Mon 19-Aug-13 15:36:35

Print off the email for future reference. Also remember that if things do go downhill then there is a time limit for any constructive dismissal arguments. Get a copy of your old job description too. Make a note of the tasks you do now so you can compare. Ask for job description and make sure it matches the original one, and the jobs you currently do. Most of all be proactive. I felt I really let myself down in that respect as I didn't fight enough, and was patronised into a corner just because I'd had a baby.

AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 15:15:19

Badguider exactly, I was/am assistant manager and he has written an email referring to me as his assistant. I will ask for a job description, thanks

HorizontalRunningOnly Mon 19-Aug-13 14:53:54

The key is terms no less favourable. Do hours, pay, holidays, benefits etc. they haven't to my mind done anything out of place maybe when u have been back a while ask about getting some one old work load ie the report u mentioned back? And build back the portfolio. It's not unreasonable that they have promoted the other person and re ordered som of the work in afraid.

badguider Mon 19-Aug-13 14:48:15

So he's said you are his assistant but are you SURE you are HIS assistant rather than assistant to his role. e.g. there's a big difference between being assistant manager and being the manager's assistant.

I would go straight to HIS boss and ask for a full job description for your new role. And not make any judgements till you have that.

AugustMoon Mon 19-Aug-13 14:46:03

Pidj, I did think that, maybe he's just got cocky and is mistaken - but i'm embarrassed to say anything in case it's true I would be mortified to have it reiterated in front of people

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