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Can they do this?

(8 Posts)
Seabiscuit1 Thu 13-Dec-18 19:50:00

I am 7 months into maternity leave and talked to my manager today about returning to work. I moved an hour and a half away from work just before my baby was born to keep costs down and be closer to family.
Before I left work part time and working from home was discussed but nothing formal. My job is very compatible from working from home. I asked today for 3 days in the office and 1/2 at home. This was rejected. I have been offered 4 days in the office in my current role or go part time (3 days a week) in the office but rather than my reasonably senior role, as an admin worker at a much much reduced salary.
Does anyone know is this is legal? What are the legal obligations for part time or flexible working?

OP’s posts: |
Rottie454 Thu 13-Dec-18 19:55:32

I always thought they had to keep your job for you ready to come back in which it sounds like they are. They have no obligation to reduce hours or even offer you another job, all they have to do is allow you to come back to your job that you're currently in

pinkcarpet Thu 13-Dec-18 20:00:17

The Maternity Action website has got lots of useful info on it about your legal rights.

If you've taken more than 6 months of mat leave (AML) this is what they say:

If you return to work during or at the end of AML you are entitled to return to exactly the same job but if your employer can show that it is not reasonably practicable for you to return to the same job, you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative job on similar terms and conditions. Your employer must prove that it is not reasonably practicable for you to return to your old job. For example, it is likely to be unfair dismissal and/or maternity discrimination if your maternity cover is taken on in your role and you are offered an alternative job. If you are offered a different job on return from maternity leave or you are offered different shift patterns, you should get legal advice about a claim for maternity discrimination

pinkcarpet Thu 13-Dec-18 20:05:27

The right to request flexible working is separate and nothing to do with mat leave.

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working - not just parents and carers.

This is known as ‘making a statutory application’.

Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible.

www.gov.uk/flexible-working

has got a sensible summary of your legal rights

MynameisJune Thu 13-Dec-18 20:06:09

The company are entitled to reject your flexible work request as long as they have a business reason. They can’t just reject it outright with no reasoning.

With regards to your job, they have to give you a similar role on the same salary as you have been on previously. I would imagine that the reduced role would be a contract change rather than a replacement to your current role.

They’ve offered you your current role at 4 days, they obviously don’t think 3 days in the office is enough for the role. So they are being quite accommodating really in offering you an alternative. Lots of places don’t/can’t.

Since2016 Thu 13-Dec-18 20:17:39

They’ve rejected your flexible working request re home working but offered your current role as part time (4 days) - Id say as long as they have a reason for rejecting it then they’re within their rights. You don’t have a ‘legal right’ to part time / flexible working unfortunately.

Seabiscuit1 Thu 13-Dec-18 20:24:35

Thank you all. They have offered 4 days maximum. As in I can’t come back full time and my salary will reflect this. To be honest that isn’t the part that bothers me. It’s that if is was to take the part time role I would be demoted several positions.
From what you have all said it does sound like they are within their rights so looks like it is time to go job hunting!

OP’s posts: |
RomaineCalm Thu 13-Dec-18 21:08:48

It's not clear from your post whether you have submitted a formal request for flexible working or whether you've had an informal conversation with your manager.

I think there are two steps here. You are legally entitled to come back to your current role on the same or similar T&Cs unless the business can prove that it is unfeasible for you to do so. So if you were f/t previously you should be able to come back f/t and without being unreasonably demoted. So if you are being told that you can't come back f/t on your original T&Cs you could seek legal advice as it suggests that there may be a case for maternity discrimination.

You also also entitled to the statutory request for flexible working as a PP says. There is a process for submitting that request and the company are obliged to consider it. In the request it it usual to detail how you think your proposed arrangement might work etc. The company doesn't have to approve it but they need to have a business reason in order to reject it.

Consider as well whether you have had any enhanced maternity pay - you may have to repay it if you don't go back at all.

Unfortunately I think the informal conversations about p/t working have confused the issue - work may think that they are doing you a favour. You may need to speak to your manager again and go back two steps.

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