Job restructure could downgrade my post: ask the expert



Question

I work for a local authority which is currently undergoing a process to find savings. As part of this all the senior managers are undertaking reviews of their service – this includes re-writing most job descriptions. I have just found out I am pregnant but am concerned that if I inform my manager this will result in a reduction in the experience required for my role – there is no one in the organisation that could currently meet the existing person specification as no one has the length of experience required. There is pressure to minimise external recruitment and fill places through redeployment, but to cover my maternity leave internally the job would have to be de-skilled. If I tell my manager that I am pregnant will I be able to challenge any changes that down grade my post?


Answer by Laura Livingstone

I appreciate the difficulties that you informing your employer that you are pregnant may bring.  In terms of timing, I am not sure how pregnant you are, but your only legal obligation is to inform your employer no later than the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth regarding your pregnancy.  The easiest way of doing this would be to produce your MATB1 form from your doctor or midwife which gives the date.  Before this time, there is no obligation, unless you would like to do so, to inform your employer, and in your case I suggest that you do not as it might buy you some more time to be able to see where you stand.

In any event, you would still be in a position to challenge any downgrading of your post whether you are pregnant or not.  If the downgrading of the post is just as a result of your pregnancy then this is unacceptable and could be raised as a separate issue.  However, if it has nothing to do with this, there is no reason why you could not make some valid points about it.  At the end of the day, if there is a business reason for needing to change the nature of the post there may, unfortunately, be nothing you can do about this.

Regarding potential redundancies, the local authority can make decisions on whether or not to make redundancies/reorganise.  Even if the workforce think that the reasoning is illogical, then provided that there is no discriminatory reason for doing so (and this would be worth considering) then a tribunal will not go behind its business decision.  If this is the case, the authority would still need to act fairly and reasonably and follow a reasonable procedure.  If you are off on maternity leave when considering alternative positions, they would need to consider you in priority for any suitable alternative positions.  I would do what you can before you go on maternity leave to protect your position as best you can.

I hope that this helps.

Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

LauraLaura Livingstone is an employment lawyer for Davenport Lyons in London. Her practice focuses on contentious and non-contentious employment work, but she leans towards the non-contentious.  She has advised a wide variety of corporate clients in all areas of employment. Meet our Panel of Experts


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