Handed new contract on return from maternity leave: ask the expert

I am currently on maternity leave and have been working the same hours days and times for six years. We have recently been tupe’d so the new company are paying my maternity pay. i recently told them I was returning in September and found out they had employed six new members of staff and when I asked about my hours etc they said I’m on a zero hours contract so am not entitled to my days, time etc back and that they will be shared out with new employees starting the same time. Can they do this? They have agreed as a good will gesture to pay me holiday pay for the hours I would have worked if i was still currently working. I have had a phone call today to ask me to attend a meeting as they are now changing my contract from zero hours (term time only) to zero hours 52 weeks a year and have said that if I don’t sign my new contract I will not get any hours whatsoever! This is distressing me as I have 3 young children and need to work, but will now not have the school holidays off. I want to know where I stand with this all. Maternity leave is supposed to be relaxing bonding with your baby, but all I seem to have to deal with is a load of stress from my new employers.

Hand holding sign which says Maternity Leave


You are entitled to return to your former job at the end of your maternity leave.  ‘Your job’ includes the hours and work pattern that you worked, i.e. the term time hours and the number of hours you worked each week.

These obligations will have passed, as a matter of law, to your new employer.  From what you say this is a breach of contract and less favourable treatment on the grounds of maternity – and therefore sex discrimination.

Check if you have legal expense insurance on any insurance policy such as a home contents policy.   Write up written notes of events and conversations to date and keep a record going forward. Do try and get some legal advice as soon as you can.

Comments [1]

  • kia says:


    I was on a 2years fixed term contract since march 2014 and i was working 9-5(with 30 min unpaid lunch) mon to fri as a part of flexible working. I am pregnant and due in may 2016and already have a child to care for and hence had requested for the flexibility which was agreed on paper.
    With a lot of struggle i got my contract renewed and i have got a permanent contract now but the tems and conditions have changed to monday to sunday ( any 5 working day, may be 6 also based on business requirement) with an increase in my working hours 8 hours and 1 hr unpaid lunch so a total of 9 hours
    now i am really worried as it will be near impossible for me to work weekends with the increased time with 2 children to care for.
    when i had a verbal discussion with HR managerpreviously i was told that i musnt expect much flexibility on my return as the company is becoming strict.
    Does this mean i have to agree to what they have laid down for me in my new cotract?
    Does my previous request of flexibility expire with my fixed term contract expiring?
    Do i have to renegotiate the flexiblity changes prior to my return?
    Request a response as my work place is really stressing me out as my understanding is they are being very discriminative.

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