Advice & Support

Demoted on return from maternity leave: ask the expert

Demoted on return from maternity leave: ask the expert

I have recently returned from maternity leave (40 weeks). Before I left, I was an operational head earning a good salary with an associated monthly bonus. I have worked for this company for 8 years and worked long hours to get to the level I am now at. I understand that as I took 40 weeks off I am not entitled to the same role but I am entitled to a position of the same standing. I have returned to a supporting projects role and a new manager working 24 hours per week over four days. I have no work to speak of, no team to manage (having managed 70 people before I left) and my pay, although pro-rata is not bonused and in effect, I am taking a £10K pay cut over the year. I have not been given a job specification and have asked twice for clarification and an increase in workload from both my new line manager and my previous line manager but have been given nothing. I've gone from busy, productive days leading a team and making a difference while furthering my career, to begging other departments for admin work or something to keep me busy. Otherwise I am literally doing nothing. There may be individuals that would be happy to earn a salary for doing very little, but I was very clear when asking to return to work that I wanted a position where I could continue my career, not a gratuitous position - which is exactly what they have given me. I feel as though I should have been made redundant if they could not find a suitable role. I was advised that I'm not able to run my previous department over 24 working hours. I feel utterly lost and useless. I have an excellent track record and up until now felt valued, significant and in a position to keep pushing upwards. Where do I stand? 

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Job replaced while on maternity leave: ask the expert

Job replaced while on maternity leave: ask the expert

I am a Senior Director in my organisation. When I left on maternity leave there was an interim cover appointed to the role who subsequently left. I have just found out that the company has hired a permanent replacement (man from outside the EU) to perform my role and I received no communication or consultation about this. This appointment was within my OML (first 26 weeks) and I contacted them immediately to ask them what role they had for me, but I am still waiting for a response. I am due back in March (I took 9 months maternity leave). Would I have a claim of maternity-related discrimination/ unlawful detriment or as I had indicated at the beginning of my maternity leave I was taking 9 months, has this negated that possibility? Also do I have to wait for them to offer me a role before taking further action?

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Facing ageism trying to get back to work: ask the expert

Facing ageism trying to get back to work: ask the expert

I work - or used to work - in arts education and development within the statutory sector. Since the recession and redundancy I have struggled to find a new post which I feel matches my skills and experience. Suddenly I seem to be 'too experienced' when I feel I am most able to take up the challenges of a new post. My family are more independent so I could commit more time to work and yet I can't find a post. After interviews I find the job has been given to people with 10/15 years less experience than me. It's very demotivating and frustrating. I've had good feedback after interviews and I don't want to think it's ageism, but now I'm thinking it probably is. What do I do now? There's no retraining support in Scotland that I can find. very few grants for setting up an arts-related small business. At the moment I am freelancing which is stressful, unpredictable and poor conditions of pay/pension etc. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Part-time request turned down and expected to pay back enhanced maternity pay: ask the expert

Part-time request turned down and expected to pay back enhanced maternity pay: ask the expert

I am on maternity leave and have been in talks with my employer (a school) regarding how they have failed to keep in touch with me and refused my part-time request. They offered me an alternative position of 32 hrs a week, but the time I would have to arrive in the mornings (8.30) will be seriously detrimental to my family (I have twins, plus an older child). I would be up against the traffic trying to get to work for this time every day, and would still need full time childcare plus afterschool (nursery opens at 8am). I feel this would seriously compromise my family life and offer me a very poor work:life balance. I have a 3-week phased return starting at 9am and although this is possible to try, I am very anxious, worried & concerned about the revert to 8.30. I do not feel at all ready to tackle this and it's making me feel ill. My maternity pay was SMP + 12 weeks enhanced and I took this because at the time of going on maternity leave, circumstances at work were different. However, things have now changed dramatically, with a different leadership and my duties are no more. I am aware that I will have to repay the enhancement if I do resign. Do you know how this will be expected as I have heard from a previous lady who did not return that it was expected in one lump sum? My first argument to this is that I did not receive it in one lump sum so I shouldn't be expected to repay it like that, but if I have no employment I will find it difficult to repay it at all!! My second point on this is that it states in my maternity letter and policy that it will only be repayable if I do not return to local government employment...I feel this is a very grey area as the council say I have to return to my original job and the school say they no longer buy into the council HR services as they are an academy (they were already an academy when I went on maternity leave so surely the letter and policy are as valid now as they were nine months ago?). I wondered whether I would be required to repay if I went to work for another school instead? 

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Role changed from part to full-time as I come up for maternity leave: ask the expert

Role changed from part to full-time as I come up for maternity leave: ask the expert

I am employed as part of my organisation's senior management team on 26 hours per week in a role I took on 9 months ago within an organisation which I have been employed with for 13 years.  I am currently 21 weeks pregnant and in a meeting with my boss regarding my maternity cover I have been informed that my role will be changing/restructured due to the ‘needs of the businesses’.  I have been informed that my current role of 26 hours per week is not allowing enough time for me to carry out strategic aspects of HR that the business now requires and therefore the more clerical and administrative elements of my job will be downgraded in terms of pay and hours and the strategic HR element of my job will become a full-time position of 40 hours per week on the same pay.  My boss has on a number of occasions made reference to the fact that I am overpaid for the job I do.  They are basically offering me the 40-hour per week position and are hinting that the downgraded HR clerical and admin job will go to another person.  They have not mentioned maternity cover for the full-time strategic HR job and I got the impression that if I did accept this position that they would expect me to cut short my maternity leave.  At this meeting I stated that I could not and did not want to work full-time hours due to my childcare requirements.  In 2012 in my previous job role within this organisation I requested to reduce my hours down from a 40 hours per week job to my current 26 hours per week due to childcare and ill health and my boss is therefore very aware that for me to go back to a full-time position is practically impossible.  Can you advise what my options are and where I stand legally?

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