I'm currently on maternity leave, but I'm feeling under pressure from my employer. Before my maternity leave I was working in a seconded role and had been for over 3 years. Prior to that I was in a temp role 'acting up' from my substantive position.
My seconded role is due to come to an end (although I've not had confirmation when this will end yet). When this does eventually end, I will return to the department I came from (where I performed both my substantive and acting up role).
However, HR have informed me by letter that the department has been restructured and there are now two roles which are suitable for me (my original/substantive role and the role which I acted up to for two years prior to my secondment as it's now become a permanent position).
There is a substantial difference in salary between the two positions.
HR have said that there are only two people eligible to apply, me and the person currently 'acting up' to the role in question. Both our substantive roles are the same.
HR now want me to go in for an interview as both myself and the other person have said we would like the higher role.
As I'm currently on maternity leave, I don't feel emotionally, mentally or physically ready to attend an interview. Bearing in mind it's been almost 4 years since I was in the role and the department for which I will be interviewed for.
I'm breastfeeding my baby who isn't yet five months old and who rarely sleeps more than half an hour at any one time, meaning I'm struggling to find any time to prepare for an interview. Not to mention 'baby brain' which frequently sees me forget what I'm talking about half way through a sentence!
The thought of an interview at this time really worries me. The job I will be applying for requires a level headed, confident and resilient person, all of which I'm not feeling at this time. I'm certain attending an interview at this time will disadvantage me.
HR did line a date up for me, but I got so stressed about it, not having any time to prepare, I cancelled it, saying that the extra stress being applied to me was not helpful whilst on maternity leave and suggested the interviews be held closer to my return date (eight months away).
HR then left it a month before contacting me again to advise that they'll be writing to me again in a couple of months with a new date and that "I should appreciate that without the interviews, instability remains within the team". This makes me feel even more pressure is on me to attend an interview which I'm not prepared for.
I don't know why HR are pressing for me to attend an interview whilst I'm on maternity leave - the situation has been the same for the last four years, so their timing is questionable.
I fear that if I attend at this current time when I'm ill prepared, my reputation will be damaged within the organisation and I will not only not get the position I'm interested in, but this will affect my career within the organisation.
Do I legally have to attend an interview whilst on maternity leave and what are my rights?
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I feel it's not fair to dismiss me only because I asked about the possiblity of flexible hours. I'm also not sure if I should follow agency's advise and not to mention it at all. I do want to have the option if possible. What would you advise?
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