Q And A
Not allowed my old job back: ask the expert
I work for the NHS as a secretary and have done for the past five years, two months ago I returned to work after nine months of maternity leave on the date that I had given then nine months before so they had plenty of notice of my return.
I no longer have a desk and I am desk hopping as my desk has been given to a new member of staff who started her job one week before I came back. So I am not doing the job I am employed to do and am just typing so in effect a support secretary as I cannot work for a consultant due to not having a workstation or telephone.
I have talked to my line manager and they have given me a desk in a completely different office and right down the other end of the corridor away from all of my colleauges. This is not practical and I spent more time walking between the two offices then at my desk so I am back to desk hopping again.
I would like to know if this is discrimination? I feel that it is, but don't want to be seen as being dramatic.
Answer by Tracey Guest
When returning from a period of additional maternity leave you are entitled to return to the same job unless not reasonably practicable for you to do so (in which case you are entitled to a suitable alternative
job). It seems unfair that a new starter who began a week before you returned has in effect taken your job and I believe this could amount to discrimination on the basis on your sex.
You could raise a grievance and see if that helps to resolve the situation. You can also submit a sex discrimination claim at the same time and while still employed. Alternatively you could resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal and sex discrimination. You have 3 months to bring a claim for sex discrimination and time is likely to run from when you returned to work. Please call Tracey Guest if you wish to discuss further.
Tracey Guest is head of employment and a partner at Slater Heelis in Manchester. She specialises in employment law and is also a working mum. Sarah Calderwood helped in the preparation of this answer.