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I took Shared Parental Leave for five months returning earlier this year. Prior to departing the firm announced they would be re-levelling roles and introducing a new career level. When I returned to work I was given a new role rather than returning to my old role. I did not request a role change. I didn’t complain about the role change as my feedback on last year’s performance was that I was ready and operating at the next level and should be put in a role that allowed me to continue on my career path so I believed I was going to be positioned into a more senior level role. However, the re-levelling has completed and my old role has been graded up so my replacement is being promoted whilst I am not, as my new role has remained at its current level. What are my options now? I feel like I have lost out on a promotion because I took paternity leave as I would have remained in my old role had I not taken leave.
I understand that you took a period of shared parental leave (SPL), returning earlier this year. I understand that when you returned you were given a new role, which you didn’t complain about because you thought that it would enable you to continue on your career path. Now that the “re-levelling” has been completed, it transpires that your old role is now in fact on a higher grade than your new role. Effectively, it appears that you have been demoted.
Where you return to work after a period of SPL which is 26 weeks or less, you are entitled to return to the job in which you were employed before your absence. Your rights are slightly different, however, where a redundancy situation has arisen, in which case you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, where one exists. It is not clear whether your old role still exists in its previous form; if it does, you should have returned to this role following your period of SPL. If your previous role has been removed and replaced with a new role on a higher grade (perhaps the job duties have changed), your previous role is likely to be redundant, although I would need more detail from you in order to advise fully in relation to a potential redundancy situation. If your previous role was redundant, you would be entitled to a suitable alternative vacancy, where one exists. I would query therefore whether your new role is a suitable alternative role for you.
An employee who has taken SPL is entitled not to be subjected to any detriment by any act or failure to act by an employer because you took SPL. You must submit your claim to an employment tribunal within three months of the unlawful act and you must go through the Acas pre-conciliation process before your claim would be accepted by a tribunal. You may also have a claim for constructive unfair dismissal if you resign in response to your employer’s treatment of you (NB I would always advise you to take specific legal advice before you resign from your employment. The time limit for this claim would be three moths from your resignation and again, you would need to go through the Acas pre-conciliation process before a tribunal would accept your claim).
In the first instance, I would advise you to raise a grievance in relation to the treatment your have been subjected to. If this does not resolve matters, I would advise you to take further specific legal advice in relation to your situation, the “re-levelling”/potential redundancy situation and next steps.
Should you require any further assistance, leas contact Tracey Guest on 0161 672 1425.
*Helen Frankland assisted in answering this question.