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Hours may be reduced due to pregnancy - can I do anything?(12 Posts)
I work part time in an NHS healthcare setting and was offered the chance in November to start up my own clinic. I started setting the clinic up in December with additional temporary hours being added to my permanent wages. During all of the discussions about the clinic, I was told by the person offering me the extra hours that there was funding for it until 2015. I do not have anything in writing about the extra contracted hours. This is not unusual - I have recently been given permanent hours for a post that I have been doing on a temporary basis for the last 4 years purely because I have been doing it so long. Again, nothing in writing, no addition to my official contract.
I also found out in December that I am pregnant, which is a big surprise as we were told that this would definitely never happen without the IVF that was needed for our one DC.
The extra clinic is due to start, I am just finalising complications to do with IT systems etc. Once I do there will only be myself to run it, plus admin, with no holiday cover and no-one to cover my mat leave. There is no-one else in the area that has the training that allows me to do this clinic. I have queried this arrangement when setting up the clinic and was told that there was no money and that they clinic would have to shut if I was off.
I told the person who offered me the extra hours about my pregnancy 2 days ago (I am 11 weeks and have had a scan etc). Today she called me at home 'to clarify my contract arrangements'. She said that the change form that had been signed by another manager to increase my hours had only been issued until the end of this March. She also talked about the lack of cover for my maternity leave and how it would not be fair to clients to start a clinic and then stop it again. She did not say that I would not be employed for these hours after March, but said that she had contacted HR for advice, that we should meet again next week and that I should stop making arrangements for the clinic to start.
If I have my hours reduced, this will reduce my wages until I go on maternity leave, reduce my amount of maternity pay and will reduce the hours that I am entitled to return to. It will also mean that I need to cancel the childcare arrangements that I have set up to start in 2 days time to cover my extra hours, or absorb the costs on no extra money.
I am prepared to go in all guns blazing, call my union, insist on my maternity rights etc. But as I have nothing in writing, will I be beating my head again a brick wall? Should I save myself the stress, time and effort and just add those managers to my fantasy hit list?
Thank you if you made it to the end - all advice appreciated!
Personally the first calls I would put in are too acas and your union, work out where you stand before this meeting and take it from there.
And maybe move this to legal for a better response on the legalities.
Thank-you - will try and find out how to shift it!
I'd go straight to my union if you're a member.
As above, go straight to your union. Cutting hours due to pregnancy is discrimination and they shouldn't get away with it. If there are problems with the clinic, they should offer you something else with the equivalent hours and wage AFAIK. Good luck.
I think going in guns blazing is premature, as you say she has not indicated that your hours will be reduced, only that it is not fair to clients to start and stop a clinic, and reinforced what you already know, that there is no one to cover your maternity leave. You have no reason at the moment that anyone will cut your hours.
Has this whole thing, the setting up of the clinic etc, all been done verbally with nothing in writing at all? In the NHS is it really possible to set up a whole new clinic without multiple stuff in writing? Is it possible to get someone paid for additional hours without anything in writing for HR/payroll? No justification about why the extra hours are needed, what code they should be put against or anything?
That seems unlikely to me and just because you haven't had anything in writing confirming a permanent variation to your contract doesn't mean there is nothing in writing.
It sounds fair enough that they are now considering not going ahead with the clinic, although depending on when you are planning on starting your maternity leave you could argue otherwise.
But similarly, just as they wouldn't want to commit to a clinic that would need to stop in 6 months, neither would they commit to one that only had funding until March. I would doubt the hours variation form only says until March and I would ask to see it if they start making noises about cutting your hours in March.
Because you've only been doing these increased hours a very short time, you won't be able to argue that they have become your established terms and conditions in the way that you could with something temporary and casual that just ends up going on for ages.
But based on the setting up of a clinic, their own confirmation that you were the only person that could do it, and the fact that you have increased your hours accordingly, you do have a good argument that those are your contractual hours, whether it's in writing or not.
Similarly, you mustn't suffer a detriment due to your pregnancy/maternity leave, so reducing your hours because of a business decision they are only making because of your pregnancy isn't on anyway.
See what they say. Don't assume the worst straight away. It is entirely likely that your manager will speak to HR and be advised that whether or not they go ahead with the clinic, you mustn't be penalised and your hours must stay the same as they were.
We'll shift this to Legal as suggested up thread.
We'll shift this to Legal as suggested up thread."
I and most of the other employment law specialists tend to hang out in the Employment topic rather than the broader Legal topic. Rather defeats the object of having a specific topic otherwise...
<<shrugs and returns to Employment>>
Thank-you all - spoke to a more senior manager today who looked slightly horrified when I recounted the conversation! So hopefully all will be explained to my other manager without a big fight being needed.
Flowery - yes, you'd think that being the NHS I'd be drowning in a sea of contract amendments, but no. Something to do with no actual new jobs being allowed so it's just down as an addition to my standard hours for a different job. The lady that pays me has it all sorted though, which is the important bit!
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