Can I be forced to take a promotion with no pay rise?

I am currently on maternity leave and there has been a restructure at work. I have therefore been offered a promotion to senior management, but without a pay rise. I disputed the fact that I would not receive the pay rise and they said they would not budge and would fill the gap externally if I declined. I am thinking of declining this offer as the new responsibility is immense and I don’t think it is worth the salary at all. Because of the restructure is there any way they can reduce my pay if I say I want to return to the same job/alternative? I will be dipping into additional maternity leave.

Career Progression


An organisation is free to decide how to structure its business and staff and is required to consult with any staff who are affected by such a proposal. Restructures may, but not always, result in roles being redundant and such dismissals can potentially be fair.

It is also free to decide the salary level that it pays for the new roles. As you rightly identify, it is your choice whether to decide to accept that role or not.

When you return to work from additional maternity leave, you are entitled to return to the job you had before maternity leave or, if this is not reasonably practicable, your employer must provide another job which is suitable and appropriate for you in the circumstances.

Whether a new job is “suitable and appropriate” for you will depend not just on the job title, but also factors such as the salary, duties, location and status within the business.

In addition, as you are on maternity leave, you are afforded special employment law protections which mean that if your role is redundant then your employer must offer you any suitable alternative vacancies which are available within the business and/or any associated business and they must do this without interview or application. A failure to do so would be discriminatory.

From your email, it appears that your existing role is not going to exist in the new structure. However, it is unclear what will happen to your duties and who will do these. This is worth exploring now to see if a similar role or suitable role will exist in the proposed new structure, in which case you should be offered it ahead of the other employees.

Given the level of seniority, the additional responsibility and the failure to increase salary accordingly, the job you have been offered does not appear to be a suitable vacancy for you. If you refuse the senior job offered and there are no other roles within the business for you to return to, your employer could potentially fairly dismiss you on grounds of redundancy.

I suggest you engage with the consultation now and explain your concerns. Ask the business for more information about the job on offer, why they consider it suitable and appropriate, to confirm that an external candidate would be offered the same salary and package as you are being offered, and whether there are any other alternatives within the business you can consider.

Consider too whether there are other jobs you could do if they provide training and/or support.

If the business does not engage constructively with you, you could raise a formal grievance regarding the situation. You could use that grievance as an opportunity to negotiate an amicable exit package, via a settlement agreement, with the business which could include compensation for discrimination and the loss of your employment.

In answer to your final point, if your role no longer exists under the restructure and the business is looking to offer you alternative vacancies, these vacancies could justifiably be at a lower salary. However, the business should not be using a restructure or redundancy to simply reduce your salary if your role continues to exist.

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