Told to do hours I cannot do for childcare reasons: ask the expert

When I had my son in 2009 I had a flexible working agreement in place for when I returned back to work. Shortly after returning to work I was suspended. After six months off I returned to work although I had been demoted – even though what happened had nothing to do with me which was later proved and all charges were lifted and I was reinstated. However, since then I have never actually returned to my minuted post, but have been getting paid for it. I have had many other jobs within the company and also many roster changes which hasn’t been good for my childcare. I have recently gone back after maternity leave with my daughter to be told I am to return to my minuted post which I haven’t done for about four years and to hours which weren’t in place when I left and I cannot do as they include 0400 starts and 2110 finishes which I can’t get childcare for. I have been told as it is my minuted post it’s that or nothing. They state they have no record of any flexible working and also it seems most of my files are missing from the HR department. I’m very upset as I have spent the past four years trying to get my job back with no luck the they give it me back knowing I can’t do it. I have a letter to state I was to return to my post on those hours after being reinstated, but that never happened. I have been declined flexible working on the grounds that the needs of the business have changed since I last held that post. I have been told my job is not suitable for women with children and it’s best if I find something else. I have worked there 12 years and I am not prepared to throw that away. This has caused me a great deal of stress and I am very confused and upset by the whole affair. I hope you can offer some advice.

After returning from maternity leave, you are entitled to return to the same job, on the same terms and conditions as if you had not been absent, unless a redundancy situation has arisen or there is some other reason (other than redundancy) why it is not reasonably practicable for your employer to permit you to return to the same job (for example, if there has been a reorganisation).

There is nothing in your email to suggest that there is a potential redundancy situation and therefore legally, you are entitled to return to the job that you carried out prior to your maternity leave.

My advice is that you set out in writing your grievance regarding this situation, as soon as possible, to the HR Department of your employer.  You should set out the full background and explain that you have not carried out your minuted post for the last four years.  You should explain the exact position that you were carrying out prior to your latest maternity leave and the hours that you then carried out.

You refer in your email to the fact that you have been declined flexible working on the grounds that the needs of the business have changed since you last held that post.  I understand therefore that you have recently lodged a formal flexible working request.  My advice is that you also appeal against this decision and refer to your appeal within your grievance letter.

You need to explain in your grievance letter exactly why you cannot carry out the hours that they are asking you to do and explain the problems that this is causing you.  You should explain that you can carry out the position that you were doing prior to your maternity leave and those previous hours (I presume that this is correct).

You should refer in your grievance letter to your legal right to return to the same position that you carried out prior to your maternity leave. You should note that if this is not done, you are aware that you would have a claim for sex discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal.  You should ask your employer to please reconsider their decision.  You should refer to the fact that you have worked for the Company for 12 years and that you are a loyal employee and that you sincerely hope that this matter can be resolved amicably.

If this matter is not resolved to your satisfaction,  please contact Tracey Guest on 0161 975 3823 for further advice.

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