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Advice about not returning to the same job after maternity leave...I'm so scared

(8 Posts)
zippytiptoes Mon 05-Oct-09 10:37:17


I am currently off work on the sick following my maternity leave. We have had an extremely stressful 18 months, following a list of catastrophic events in our life, some major things which I'll not go into but which have really affected my ability to cope and function properly and well, and which include one child having had a major operation at 5 months old and the other one having to attend hospital for tests for kidney problems.

After crumbling, the doctor suggested I have some time off and gave me some beta blockers as I was experiencing panic attacks. I haven't taken them as I'm worried it'll effect my ability to be a good mum(? any experiences would be gladly received.

Anyway, I returned to work in the summer, but had taken saved holiday and was therefor due to properly return at the end of August. I have been off since. My work keep emailing/phoning and writing to me to ask when I'll be back. Are they allowed to do this?

The main crux is that I don't want to go back. I do want to have a job, but would like to change my career route. I teach kids with emotional/behavioural difficulties and feel that I've got enough of my own to be able to give them what they need. I also don't feel supported by my manager who has been very unsuportive of any child related issues e.g childcare vouchers, children being unwell, me being pregnant etc.

The trouble is, I don't know where I stand in terms of my rights. Would I have to pay some of my maternity pay back, do I have to go back for any period of time?

I really feel very anxious about all this and I'm trying to be as proactive as possible, but it seems very difficult with one child quite ill and with work hassling me on an ongoing basis.

If anyone has any ideas or advice, I'd be so grateful. I just feel like I'm in a real mess. I know there'll be a way out and in my normal frame of mind I'm the first to offer help and support, but I just can't see the wood for the trees. Thank you.

MavisEnderby Mon 05-Oct-09 10:44:23

I'm not sure but your work sounds quite unsupportive.

I had 6 months off on sick when dp became very ill and then took a year unpaid and they kept job open and were wholly supportive,though I did have to attend occy health and a couple of hr interviews,I think the constant hassling is uncalled for if you are signed off sick but could be wrong.They have also allowed me to be phased back into work "gently" and been 100% supportive.

Hopefully hr bod along soon!

Poledra Mon 05-Oct-09 10:46:34

Zippy, you shuld have a copy of your work's maternity policy (they should have given you one when you discussed your pg with them - otherwise, contact HR and ask them to send you one) and it should tell you if you have to pay back any maternity pay. This will only be if they paid you above and beyond SMP. In the two places I have worked when I had children, one did ask that you stayed for 6 months, the other had no such policy in place.

Hope you can get this sorted out.

BloodshotEyeballs Mon 05-Oct-09 10:56:19

You count as having gone back to work when your ML ended. Taking annual leave counts as being back at work and I would imagine being off sick does as well. Everywhere I have worked has asked that you return for one month and if that is the case you should have fulfilled any requirements regarding having to pay back money already.

Are you keeping in touch with them? We have someone off sick at the moment and, much as we sympathise and are keeping a low profile to let her recover, we do need to know how long we need to provide cover (ie me!) for. Hassling you is not on but are you keeping them informed?

Sounds like you've had a rotten time

zippytiptoes Wed 14-Oct-09 10:19:36

Did anyone have any idea if I'd have to pay back maternity or sick pay if I don't return to the same job?

llaregguBOO Wed 14-Oct-09 10:33:09

Zippy, sorry to hear you've had such a terrible time.

If you've been off sick since the end of your maternity leave and have been providing medical certificates etc then you will not have to pay back anything. You do not ever have to pay back statutory maternity pay or sick pay.

I don't know where you work or if you have a HR team but if you have, could you arrange a meeting with HR to talk about how you are feeling? It is usual (and good practice) for your manager to keep in touch with you if you are off sick.

You can either resign, giving your contractual notice or wait for them to dismiss you which they will probably look to do if there is no sign of you returning.

zippytiptoes Wed 14-Oct-09 10:38:14

Thanks for this. I have a meeting on Monday with my line manager and a member of HR and I'm going with a union rep. He has explained that they just need to check how long I'll be off, but I really feel that I just don't want to return. The working practise has just changed so much and the way they have dealt with me has been so unsupportive, I just don't want to work somewhere where I know I will feel unhappy and continue to feel this intense stress. I know I would feel better if I could sort the job thing, but need to be sure that I won't have to pay back anything as I can't afford it.

flowerybeanbag Wed 14-Oct-09 10:39:38

Zippy have you only had SMP or does your employer pay you more than that? You never have to pay back SMP but if your employer offers anything over and above, they can put terms and conditions on it including a requirement to return to work for a set period of time.

If that's the case, you would need to have been notified of that requirement beforehand, either in a letter or a policy document. Have you looked at your maternity policy where you work? Did your employer write to you confirming your maternity leave and pay arrangements back when you notifed them of your intention to take maternity leave and did it say anything about returning to work afterwards?

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