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Legal reasons for being made redundant after returning to work

(8 Posts)
firsttimer08 Wed 17-Sep-08 15:28:06

I work in the city and am going on maternity leave soon. Given the current turmoil, there are lots of people eyeing my 'cover position' - the employees who have lots jobs at banks are obviously willing to take anything. So basically my firm will easily be able to easily find a cover for me for 6 months.

I'm worried that they won't want me anymore, when i come back from mat leave after 6 months. a) they could find a fantastic person to replace me b) they may prefer the new person simply because i have a baby and the hours i work could be constrained by childcare hours etc. I know reason b) could not be legally used by my firm, but can they use option a) to fire me i.e. they have found someone else to replace me? Has this even happened with anyone?

My understanding is that they are required to take me back in my old position, unless of course the company goes through changes and the position is not there. Is that true?

flowerybeanbag Wed 17-Sep-08 15:35:30

They must take you back in your old position if you are going back after 6 months.

If you go back after additional maternity leave, they don't have to give you back your old position if it's not reasonably practical to do so, but they must give you something on no less favourable terms and conditions.

It's perfectly possible to be made redundant while on maternity leave, but you have special protection, which means that if there is anything at all suitable anywhere in the company, you must be offered it as a priority and can't be made to compete for a job or go through a selection process.

Preferring your maternity cover isn't a valid reason at all, they can't find someone to replace you on a permanent basis unless and until you indicate that you're not returning to work.

Option b is a bit more complicated and not necessarily as clear-cut as you think. You have the right to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions but if you want the hours changed because of your circumstances they don't have to allow that, they can refuse as long as they give a decent business reason. Is that what you mean by hours of work being constrained by childcare?

paddingtonbear1 Wed 17-Sep-08 15:38:24

hi, yes your understanding is right. After your mat leave you are entitled to come back to your position, they can't just get rid of you and employ someone else in the same position instead! If they were to restructure and your position is no longer there, they would have to offer you something else suitable with the same terms and conditions - and you would have first dibs, being on mat leave.
flowery always puts this stuff better

paddingtonbear1 Wed 17-Sep-08 15:39:06

aha, x-posts with flowery, ignore my message and take hers instead

flowerybeanbag Wed 17-Sep-08 15:44:24


I like 'first dibs'!

firsttimer08 Wed 17-Sep-08 16:12:20

thanks for your advice. actually on b) i meant that i currently work beyond the 'legal' 9-5, there are often meetings at 6 and i usually leave by 7pm or so. with the baby i'll obviously have to leave a little earlier and i wonder if that can 'legally' be used as an excuse. i mean i will still be doing my contractual hours, but can not staying long enough outside of contractual hours be used as a valid reason?

flowerybeanbag Wed 17-Sep-08 18:06:46

I would assume your contract probably states something like 'contractual hours 9-5 but required to work such hours as are necessary to fulfil the requirements of the role'.

In other words, you have 9-5 nominally specified as your contractual hours but that's about it - you are expected to get the job done and it will probably take longer to do so.

It wouldn't be a case of taking action against you for refusing to work beyond contractual hours, it's more likely to be a case of them considering that you are not fulfilling the requirements of your role.

Obviously I have no idea what you do for a living, the working environment you are in or how your performance is measured, but I'd say rather than worrying about possible reasons your employer might find for making you 'redundant', you might be best having a long hard think about whether and if so how exactly your current role could be performed successfully within the hours you want to work, contrasted to the hours you currently work.

If you think it is possible, but it's a role that currently demands, say, 10 hours of your time a day, it is likely to involve some creative thinking and flexible working both on your part and probably that of your employer. Simply saying that you are no longer going to stay longer than 5pm and you expect them either to reschedule all those meetings at times to suit you or manage without your presence isn't going to do you any favours.

Think carefully about if and how you would be able to do what you do now and be home at the time you want. There are loads of threads on here about this, and loads of posts from women who do demanding city jobs full time or part time and make compromises/work evenings/leave very early in the morning to be home at a reasonable time/leave late in the morning and stay late/all sorts of other things. Have a search and read for some inspiration and ideas.

I think you need a realistic and creative think about whether this is possible for you.

firsttimer08 Wed 17-Sep-08 21:59:35

hi flowery beanbag - thanks for your advice. u're right i need to think more clearly myself about the role and how i can best fulfil it once the baby is here.

I am having difficulty finding childcare at the moment that would extend till say 7pm - if i can find a suitable arrangement then i'm more optimistic that I can manage my job and the baby. Plus personally, i don't think I need to stay till 7pm to fulfil the role.

However, my manager has already said to me that he does not believe I will be able to work the hours i currently do with the baby. I'm not sure if that is a hint from him to look for other roles or just commenting on how i would need to devote some time to the baby as well ! [he has children himself].

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