I am currently awaiting a verdict on a flexible working request appeal. In September when I was on maternity leave, my company made some changes to job roles, but I did not find out that my role had been changed until the meeting to discuss my request in December. As a result my request has been rejected as my new department does not work Saturdays. I feel I should have been informed of the changes at the time I put in my request. My company says it wasn’t a major change and did not want to bother me during maternity leave. What are my rights?
Unfavourable treatment because you are on maternity leave is unlawful discrimination. If you were not consulted about the change because you were on maternity leave, as seems to be the case, this would be unlawful. If your colleagues were consulted or informed, however informally, but you were not, that would tend to support an argument that you were treated unfavourably because of your maternity leave.
This is certainly something about which you can bring a grievance and ultimately, if you wish, an Employment Tribunal claim. The Employment Tribunal is, however, likely to view it as a relatively minor one-off incident (compared, for example, to someone being dismissed or made redundant because they were on maternity leave).
It seems that the failure to consult with you would not have changed the decision about flexible working, though if you would have made a different application had you known the position, you should ask your employer to consider a second application on this basis. Whilst you can only make one formal request for flexible working in any 12 months, there is nothing to stop your employer considering an informal request.