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Advice please - demoted upon return to work. (Teacher)

(35 Posts)
TheDovefromabove56 Mon 04-Jul-16 20:15:13

I have been second in department in a secondary school for the last ten years prior to maternity leave. Before I returned to work I successfully negotiated with the HM to work three days a week or 0.6 of my timetable. At no point during these conversations was my position as 2nd in dept discussed and I assumed that prior to my signing a new contract I would have a conversation as to whether I would do the same job in three days (completely possible) or whether I would do some kind of job share with the person who had been covering the role whilst I was on Mat leave.

So I was quite shocked when today (during my first day back at work) I have been informed by my very embarrassed HOD that the man covering my role received a letter offering him second in dept as of next term! He hadn't even applied for the job or been asked if he wanted it.

So where do I stand? My understanding (and what I plan on saying to the HM in a meeting tomorrow) is that if you return to work part time this should not automatically lead to a demotion or to less money (pro rata). If relinquishing my position was part of the condition of returning to work part time this should have been made clear to me and there needs to be a good reason why I can't do the job in 3 days.

Is this correct? Is there anything else I should say? Many thanks.

honeysucklejasmine Mon 04-Jul-16 20:19:40

How long were you off for? I think that night have a bearing.

But my understanding of theaw is that no, you can't be demoted. I think the terms have to be easily favourable. Are you losing your TLR payment as well as the role?

Do you work for LA or academy?

MooPointCowsOpinion Mon 04-Jul-16 20:20:59

You cannot be discriminated against for being on maternity leave. They have absolutely fucked up. Can you call your Union?

PennyPinwheel Mon 04-Jul-16 20:21:41

That doesn'the sound right. Have you asked your union for advice? When I returned part time from mat leave, I was told I'd get 0.6 of the pay but be expected to do the whole job (TLR but in primary). After union advice that changed to 0.6 of the job for 0.6 of the money. I did go back on that basis but ended up leaving after a term because of that and other reasons.

PennyPinwheel Mon 04-Jul-16 20:22:26

* doesn't. ..pesky autocorrect!

TheDovefromabove56 Mon 04-Jul-16 20:30:50

Thank you for replying. I have been off from mid September until today so only a standard amount of time.

I haven't been spoken to at any point about what is happening but I can't imagine there is any way they intend giving someone else my job and still paying me the TLR money.

I am confident that they are in the wrong and my union have confirmed it. What I really need is to have some advice about what to say in the meeting tomorrow. I hate conflict and I am pathetically grateful to have been allowed to come back part time. Every other woman who has requested flexible working after Mat leave has been told a flat no (school obviously in the dark ages when it comes to employment).

TheDovefromabove56 Mon 04-Jul-16 20:32:26

The school is an academy now but my contract with them was signed when we were grant maintained and my understanding is that terms and conditions carry over from then.

Wolfiefan Mon 04-Jul-16 20:34:06

Is this a role you can do part time though? What about if the Head of Dept is off and you aren't in that day?

Mishaps Mon 04-Jul-16 20:36:49

I am sure that the union can advise on the carry-over of working conditions from LA to academy. Might they support you in this conversation that you are concerned about.

They are of course totally out of order.

TheDovefromabove56 Mon 04-Jul-16 20:44:22


I can't really imagine that there would be a senario where someone else in the dept couldn't cover. Thank you for raising that though - I will need to come up with a better answer incase I get asked that question tomorrow. Also, I would be happy to consider a job share with the acting second. It is just that I was never asked to do so.

If I don't get anywhere tomorrow I will consider asking my union to help. I know that is what they are there for. I don't think the HM will respond well to the threat of union action though.

Thanks everyone - you have been very helpful.

Wolfiefan Mon 04-Jul-16 20:47:33

I wasn't suggesting that it couldn't work and I do think they are behaving badly. My experience is that it is typical of many schools though. I'm guessing that they will argue that you can't do this job part time. (And saying someone else will do it isn't acceptable. They shouldn't have to be doing part of your job for free!)

Wolfiefan Mon 04-Jul-16 20:48:30

PS Don't feel you need to threaten your school with the union. The union can just tell you where you stand and how to best argue your case. I would call them.

AnotherEmma Mon 04-Jul-16 20:50:51

Can you take your union rep with you to the meeting?

As you have a union they're the best people to advise, but if you want a second opinion you could contact Citizens Advice or Maternity Action.

Basically this is discrimination and it's illegal. They can't offer your job to the person who was doing your maternity cover FFS.

AnotherEmma Mon 04-Jul-16 20:54:20

Also, to the people saying it's not possible to do the job part time, that's not relevant because it wasn't discussed when the OP negotiated part time working. If that was going to be an issue they should have raised it. However I disagree that it's not possible to work part time and have a senior / management position. Given that some women have that attitude it's no wonder others are struggling. And yes it does affect women disproportionately as they are still more likely than men to work PT rather than FT after having children.

Carmen1983 Mon 04-Jul-16 20:55:26

The same situation happened to me when I went back to work. I was a second in a department in a core subject for five years in a secondary school. I requested three days a week part time contract after having my first child. I met with the headteacher during maternity leave to discuss this. They said that they only had to consider part time requests and didn't have to grant my request. They said they would agree to it if I relinquished the second in department post, as they felt that needed to be a full time role. I contacted the union who said that they could do this, as they did not have to grant the part time contract and only had to consider it. I agreed to give up the role and TLR as I wanted the part time contract more. I am really surprised that no discussions have taken place for you though, that doesn't sound right at all?

noblegiraffe Mon 04-Jul-16 20:56:25

At my school they don't give TLRs to part timers.

Did your part time application involve discussion of how you would fulfil your TLR in three days? Perhaps they thought it was understood that you would be stepping down when you asked to drop your hours and this is a hideous misunderstanding rather than them deliberately going behind your back?

PennyPinwheel Mon 04-Jul-16 20:58:03

I think you just need to ask them to clarify what they think is happening with your TLR and if possible get that in writing. Then say you will be seeking advice as you have not asked or been asked to relinquish it when you negotiated a part time return.

Wolfiefan Mon 04-Jul-16 20:58:29

I am not saying it is justified. I am explaining what the OP should expect the school to say. I was in a very similar position a few years ago and thought it might be a useful insight.
Another Emma do you work in teaching? It isn't like other jobs!

SlightlyperturbedOwl Mon 04-Jul-16 21:00:37

Maybe you could suggest you 'job-share' the role - you do 3 days and the other guy does 2 days and you get the extra pay split proportionally? That would seem to be a totally fair way of doing it, then no one is covering for you without the extra pay

AnotherEmma Mon 04-Jul-16 21:07:57

Wolfie I have some training in employment law but no I don't work in teaching. Having read Carmen's post I can see that schools are likely to want senior roles to be full time - however I do think they could at least consider job share and it's a shame if they don't. And my point still stands which is that the OP's employer did not actually say that relinquishing the senior role would be a condition of going PT. So they are still in the wrong.

Carmen1983 Mon 04-Jul-16 21:08:44

I had to officially give up the role in writing- I am surprised they could try to give your role to someone else if you had not done this? Definitely contact the union for advice.

TheDovefromabove56 Mon 04-Jul-16 21:10:37

Good point Wolfie. If I get asked that question I could say that my second in dept role is clearly defined. I mentor NQTs and PGCE students and oversee KS3. Of course I would stand in for HOD if he were absent but it is not the kind of dept where there are regular big events only he or I would be able to manage e.g a lot of extra curricular trips.
As I said, I would be open to a job share if one were proposed but don't think its necessary.

TheDovefromabove56 Mon 04-Jul-16 21:11:11

Thanks for your help everyone - off to bed now.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 04-Jul-16 21:11:28

It might well be as noblegiraffe says - an assumption that you have relinquished your TLR to go part time. Are there any part time TLR holders in the school?

Wolfiefan Mon 04-Jul-16 21:12:08

They are absolutely in the wrong. I have never yet known a school to admit it.
Schools do this.
They try and force people to come in unpaid on days off.
They tell staff they aren't actually being threatened by a pupil.
They call you at home and email you when you are off sick.
They change the rules about reports etc within hours or days of the deadline.
They insist you do extra training for no pay.
Etc etc.
that's why I no longer teach!

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