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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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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Flexible working refused: ask the expert

Flexible working refused: ask the expert

I submitted my flexible working request and met with my manager yesterday who said they cannot do any of my requests. Previously I worked 9-5 Monday to Friday with occasional (unpaid) weekend work. In my letter I requested to reduce my working week to four days and do two days from home. Before going on maternity leave I worked two days from home because of ill health and my work were extremely supportive of me which I am eternally grateful for. However, they say I cannot do part time due to additional costs. I didn't ask what these costs are. But surely if I drop a day the reduction in my salary will offset paying someone else for that day? Also if I were to work from home two days that would reduce their office costs?
Secondly, they rejected my homeworking [which I asked for as I have a very long commute] saying that if something bad happened they would need everyone in the same place so the work could be passed on easier. I think what they were trying to say falls under the point: inability as an employer to reorganise the work within the existing workforce. I was also told that there was no hidden agenda and that the person covering my work had nothing to do with it.  My manager called this an informal meeting before the flexible working one. 

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Permanent replacement found for my job while I was on maternity leave: ask the expert

Permanent replacement found for my job while I was on maternity leave: ask the expert

I am on maternity leave I am due back in the spring. I am contracted to 21 hours a week. Prior to my maternity I worked a 14-hour shift on Sundays and a 7-hour shift on Wednesdays afternoons. However, I emailed my HR department last week to ask if I could possibly work either on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays as I now go to university from Tuesday to Friday every week. I work in a healthcare organisation where we work every day of the week. However, she phoned me and told me that they can't accomodate my chosen days so I will have to apply for bank staff. I reminded her that I have worked long shifts on Sundays for the past year. She just said they have recruited a lot of staff since I left for maternity leave. I have since learned that someone has been employed permanently in my post. HR said if I apply for bank staff they will try and get me regular shifts. From my experience with this firm every member of staff struggles to get overtime. The next day I found a post advertised online for the same firm but a different department which suits my uni free days. I emailed the Head of the Department and she emailed me application forms. I then informed my HR and asked her what is the procedure if I would like a department transfer. I even told her that I have been sent application forms by the other department. She didn't reply. I have also informed the new department that I am already an employee as I thought they weren't aware. They haven't replied either. Where do I stand? I haven't applied for bank staff or resigned either. I just wanted to sort things out beforehand. Can the firm ask staff to apply for a bank post verbally? I feel I am not being fairly treated. 

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Asked to pay back OMP after career break: ask the expert

Asked to pay back OMP after career break: ask the expert

Following my first period of maternity leave, I took a 2-year career break.  During this time I fell pregnant again, so the career break was frozen and second period of maternity leave began for I was paid OMP.  Now the career break has finished and I have given the required notice of my return to work.  I have requested family friendly hours to fit in with my family commitments.  I was offered one role which did not fit in with the requested hours and they were not prepared to be flexible on this.  I had a verbal offer of a role which I accepted, but was then told I would have go through a selection process and fill out an application form and attend an interview.  I did not get this role.  My employer has now written to make me redundant with nine weeks pay.  However, they want me to repay the OMP which ultimately means I owe them £5,000. I have appealed this decision and they say their original position still stands.  As it was my intention to return to work and not leave, is the OMP repayment clause enforceable?  Plus how long is this clause valid for?  Do I have a case to go to Employment Tribunal?  Currently I do not have a job so have no means of paying them back.

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