I’m one of two producers on a weekly TV show and have a full-time contract. I’ve been at the company for 17 years. I’m also a single mum with no family support. I returned to work after a year of maternity leave. I had a meeting a week before my return date & I was told there was a lot of changes going on & they felt it would be better for me to move onto a programme that was more office based. This project would only take me up to June 2014 and when I asked what would happen to me afterwards they said they didn’t know. Since being back I have heard office gossip that they are making my original role redundant – they hasn’t been any formal consultation about this – but I asked my line manager and he said it was likely this would happen and they know they have to find me another job. Can they make my role redundant and keep the other producer (a male) there – why can they chose him over me? As I accepted to work on the other programme does that mean I have no rights back to my old job? When discussing the possible roles for me from June – I was offered a month of overnight edits for a short series so a significant change in terms and hours which I said I can’t do. Now they have offered me another role just for two weeks which creates more problems for me with childcare than if I went back to my old job. I have no problems with my original role being made redundant due to restructuring, but it has to be done within the law and fairly. Can you advise on the law of this please? Also in terms of a new role what would the law see as a suitable alternative? My old job was Monday to Friday – fairly normal hours but the ad hoc late night. They are muting possibly working on a programme on a Saturday now. None of the above has been put in writing and I don’t know whether I should do this.
When you return from a year’s maternity leave, you are entitled to return to your old job (if it still exists) or to a similar one, which means on the same terms & conditions. So it seems strange that they should change you to a new role when your old one is still available. If your old job is still there & hasn’t been made redundant, who is covering it at the moment? They can’t give your job away while you are on maternity leave so if it is temporary cover, you are entitled to get that role back. You may have accepted the other role, but if it is a temporary position, then I would argue that it isn’t on the same terms and conditions. I would also argue that even though you accepted it, you felt pressured into doing so when it wasn’t your choice and there was no real business case for it if you would have been happy to return to your old job. It also sounds like they have pre-empted your redundancy from the previous job by placing you in this role prematurely, which suggests unfair (and so unlawful) selection for redundancy – this would put them in a weak position if you were to put in a claim, so you may also want to make that point!
If that previous role is to be made redundant, then as there are two identical producer roles and only one will go, they have to choose whether it is you or your colleague who is dismissed due to redundancy. They can’t arbitrarily choose you and to choose you due to your maternity situation is unlawful. Ask them to be transparent with the process, to follow the statutory procedure and to consult with you both. This means telling both of you that you are at risk etc. and explaining what the selection criteria are, which must be fair and objective.
Your new role may be temporary, but you are still on a permanent contract, so they would need to find you something else suitable (that you both agree on) when that ends. If there is nothing available, then you are entitled to a redundancy package.
Either way, they need to offer you any suitable alternative roles, which again means comparable terms and conditions and one that you are able and willing to do. If your childcare isn’t compatible, don’t forget that alongside all this you are entitled to request a flexible working arrangement, parental leave, dependency leave etc. So it may be possible for you to still be in one of these roles and work around your needs.
Ultimately, though, this is all something your employer should consult and negotiate with you on, not just impose these changes or conditions. I would suggest you start with asking for your old job back (if that is what you want) and then making sure they follow a correct redundancy procedure involving both you and the other producer. If you are then selected for redundancy (and are happy that this is a fair selection) then they can move you into the new role (the one you are doing now) and see what happens when that role ends. But insist that they do all of this fairly and lawfully and that means in the correct order!
Always put everything in writing, as this is all evidence if you need to refer back to it later, and also you need a concrete record of anything that is discussed and agreed so there is complete clarity.