Selection for maternity leave cover: Ask the expert

I have worked for my company for  four years, in this time I have covered my manager and deputy manager many times whilst they have been out, I was the only other key holder and had all the responsabilites of a senior member of staff whilst they were away. I am currently on maternity leave and before I left my manager told me she was trying for a baby, I made her very aware I would like to cover her maternity leave whilst she was away if I could. Since I have been away she has become pregnant and is due to leave in  October, I am due to return in November. She has recently told me that covering her job role will be my deputy manager which I have no problem with and covering his will be a girl who has been employed in our Birmingham office for two years, who is currently covering my maternity leave. Is it right that I wasn’t considered for the job? And wasn’t told about it so that I could apply? I have asked for a meeting with her where I plan to ask why I wasn’t considered, but this has really offended me, to the point that I want to leave and am really upset about having to go back! I feel like I’m in a no win situation because it’s too late now.

As an employee, you have a right to return to your same job at the end of 26 weeks’ of maternity leave or a same or similar job on no less favourable terms at the end of your 52 week maternity leave period. It would appear that your job has been kept open for you to return in November 2010. On the point of the alternative role of deputy manager, this only appears to be maternity leave cover/temporary and therefore, it is questionable as to whether this would be perceived as a promotion, which you state you have been denied because of your maternity leave status.

You need to consider which role would be available to you once your manager returns from maternity leave. You could write a letter of grievance to your employer setting out your dissatisfaction that you were not properly considered for the role of deputy manager for the fixed period covering the manager’s maternity leave period and instead, the role was offered to your colleague, which denied you the opportunity of working in such a role.

You should also state why you considered yourself better suited to the temporary role rather than your colleague. However, you would need to make it clear that in the event that such a role had been offered to you instead, you would have accepted it on the proviso that you could return to your old role when the maternity leave cover came to an end so as to ensure you had the security of your permanent job when this maternity leave arrangement ended.”

Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

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