Job being changed while on maternity leave: ask the expert



Question

I am currently on maternity leave.  I am head of a small specialist team.  I am at a senior grade, but officially I am one grade lower than most of the colleagues I work with with an equivalent amount of responsibility.  Before going on leave my work started a job evaluation process to resolve inconsistencies in grades around the organisation.  As part of this, my job description was revised.  I was happy with this because I felt it now properly reflected my role and responsibilities and was hopeful that the inconsistency in my grade would be resolved or at least would be subject to a fair review.  The job evaluation process was then suspended so the organisation could focus on a reorganisation instead. My work is currently going through that restructuring process and I am concerned that my role will be diluted and some of my management responsibilities moved to a new post, namely a new manager post created above mine.  I have had no consultation to date on my post or intentions with it and have not been sent the full briefings that have been given to all staff. I was invited to one about two months ago, but it was cancelled and not rescheduled. I have been sent emails with brief summaries of all staff briefings, but I can’t access the full information remotely.  I have requested full copies of all of these now. Proposals I have seen via a colleague show that I would report to a newly created senior manager post who would also manage another team. The new senior manager post is vacant, but would match about 50% of my current post.  The other 50% would cover an area where I have no experience or interest.  I am now feeling very concerned that these changes are moving forward in my absence without my input.  I am worried that existing issues in my post will be disregarded and I will either have to return to a lesser/demoted role or apply for a new post, which is theoretically at the right level, but contains other functions where I have no experience.  Am I in a redundancy situation here?


Answer by Tracey Guest

Your employer should be keeping you up to date on the restructuring process. You should contact HR and ask them for an update if you are concerned you are not being kept fully up to date.

You mentioned that you are worried that existing issues in your post will be disregarded. I assume this is in relation to the job evaluation process that was suspended. Did you respond to the news that the job evaluation process was being suspended? Did the company give you any indication as to when it would be dealt with.
Your main query is in relation to proposals that you have seen regarding the new structure that concern you but you have not been given information directly from the company.
You could contact the company and ask for a meeting to discuss proposals. Tell your employer that you are concerned that you are not being kept fully up to date and you would also like to discuss when the job evaluation process will be completed.
Alternatively, you could submit a grievance based on the information you have provided in your email. The problem being that you do not have any substantive evidence at this moment in time that you will have to return to a lower graded role or apply for a new post.
You have asked whether you are in a redundancy situation at the moment. The information you have is too vague to decide whether you are actually at risk of redundancy. It does appear that the restructuring is moving forward without keeping you up to date. However, the company could defend itself by saying it did not want to worry you whilst on maternity leave with draft proposals.
Therefore the best option would be to write to HR/your line manager directly for a meeting to discuss proposals to see if you can extract any more information from them. It does seem likely from the information you have provided that at some point in the future your current role will be subject to a restructuring exercise and potentially could be a redundancy situation. If you are on maternity leave in a redundancy situation then the company will have to specifically consider whether there is any suitable alternative employment for you.
Tracey GuestTracey Guest is head of employment and a partner at Slater Heelis in Manchester. She specialises in employment law and is also a working mum Meet our Panel of Experts


One comment

  1. Anonymous says:
    23/01/2013 at 12:00 am  

    Hi Tracey,

    Is it alright to change jobs while on maternity leave? My current job has a lot of travelling involved which will be very difficult for me to manage with the baby. I have been offered a new role in another organisation while I am on mat leave. Can you please advise.

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