Am I being sidelined on maternity leave?: ask the expert

I am currently on maternity leave and am due to return back to work in the spring. Since being on leave the team has been moved around and I now report to a different business area. I am requesting to return part time. I feel since me being off I have been pushed aside to work under management I don’t know and have not been kept up to date of any change.  I have just found out that the colleague I worked alongside and did the same role as, has had her role evaluated/been promoted to a senior manager since I have been off. This would mean an enhanced package overall but her role has not changed and is the same as my role. I have not received any notification of my role being evaluated and compensated accordingly. I feel I have been pushed aside due to being on maternity leave. I would like to bring this up, but am worried about  the implications  of this conversation with a new manager when I want to request flexible hours. HR has also advised me that if I didn’t want to return they could look at a redundancy package even though I was told a week prior that there are no redundancies. I cannot help feel there is a hidden agenda here.

Maternity Notice letter

Close-up Of A Woman's Hand Filling Maternity Leave Form Holding Pen Over Desk

I can understand your feelings of being forgotten and pushed aside. There have been a lot of changes at your workplace while you have been on maternity leave and it appears that you haven’t been kept fully informed and might even have been misinformed. With a lack of communication and some contradictory communication, it is not surprising that you are now suspicious of the agenda of your employer and you are finding it hard to trust what you are being told.

At the same time, you are right to want to build trust and rapport with your new manager, especially as you want to request a change to your working arrangements. I am able to comment on how to handle the conversation with your new manager, but not your legal rights for which you need to consult a qualified specialist.

As this is your first meeting with your new manager, you need to focus your conversation on the most important issue, rather than bombard him or her with a list of concerns. These questions will help to you to prioritise: Can you only return to work if it is on a part-time basis? Are you only prepared to go back to work if your role (and package) is made equal to that of your colleague? Only you can decide what is essential to your return.

However, your starting point for the conversation with your new manager needs to be the following:

You are enthusiastic to come back to work, you are committed to your employer and want to keep making progress in your career

You are keen to get to know your new manager and how best you can work together

You are aware that there has been a reorganisation while you have been on maternity leave but you haven’t received regular communication about it and so you would like to understand it better and what it means for you and your role

You can then go on to make your request either for part-time work or for your role to be re-evaluated in line with your colleague’s. Be as factual as possible so that you and your manager can concentrate on your specific request and not be diverted by your emotional response.

The question of a possible redundancy option doesn’t belong in this conversation, but is something to pursue separately with the HR rep who advised you about it, if it is relevant.


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