I have worked for my current company for over 10 years and am currently on maternity leave (extended). There has been a restructure in my absence where my role now starts and finishes at different times. These hours will not be suitable for my needs and so I asked to be made aware of all vacancies. I was told that I would be last to see the vacancies as there are affected staff in consultation and my role was not at risk. Now the consultation is completed, I am to apply for vacancies available. However, there is nothing suitable as they want me to work more days than I can. My original job has been given to my maternity cover, but I have been offered a job share in another department. I’m failing to see why I couldn’t return to my original role with that colleague job sharing it with me. I am not trained for the role I am being offered and he would not be trained for the role I was in. It’s not drastically important as the hours of work have changed and so don’t suit me anyway, but I don’t understand why that wasn’t the first option given. I just need to know where I stand as I feel pushed out and I am starting to stress out about finding work. I have also asked if returning to the job share I’ve been offered could be done with “child friendly” hours as in the shift patterns I was doing before I left.
Without seeing your contract or understanding the meetings you have been involved in fully, it’s difficult to say for certain whether this could leave you with a complaint that would amount to a claim at tribunal, but I would say the following;
– You have a right to be consulted with regarding changes to your contract of employment (in this case the hours of work) and have the opportunity to give feedback on proposed changes. If you cannot agree to changes and they need to happen for business reasons then your employer can impose them by giving notice – from what you have said, neither of these things has happened.
– You have a right to be consulted with even on maternity leave and again it does not sound as if this has been followed.
– If you are affected by a redundancy while on maternity leave you do have a priority right to vacancies, but it doesn’t sound as if this would apply in this scenario
It’s unclear whether you’ve refused the new hours and are now being given the opportunity to find a suitable alternative role,(in which case you’ll need to try to find something that can fit your childcare needs and commitments), or whether your role has been given to your maternity cover in your absence, in which case you have grounds for complaint.
When you say they are offering you more days than you can work, if the number of days you can now work is fewer than you could work prior to maternity leave (and so fewer than you are contracted to), you should make a flexible working request – you can find out more about how to do so here: https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working/applying-for-flexible-working
Your employer does not have to offer you hours to suit your childcare needs so it’s something you’ll need to negotiate with them and try to find a suitable compromise.
If you feel they have not followed the correct process with regard to changes to your contract or a flexible working request, the first step would be to raise a grievance with them and give them the opportunity to put it right.