Will I be overlooked for promotion after having a baby: ask the expert

I am about to go on maternity leave and have been informed that my employers intend on a restructure. This is in response to my direct line manager who has found a new job and is about to leave the department. We have only just been through one restructure and the level of consultation was awful (decidedly lacking). I was lucky to be given a job I enjoy and a small pay rise. The woman who would be managing the restructure has made it clear to my manager that she does not believe I understand my own “feelings”, that when I have my child my work will become a low priority and I may well want part time work or flexible working. I am ambitious and would like a chance to progress, ideally I would like the opportunity to apply for my manager’s job. I am worried about two things: 1. If I were not pregnant then it is likely (although there is no way I could prove this) that the woman restructuring would apportion out the responsibilities (and some of the pay) of my manager’s role between myself and a colleague. I am concerned that she will pass on the opportunities for progression to my colleague and will not give my role any further responsibility as she thinks I will be too busy cooing over my child. 2. As she assumes that my ambition will disappear as soon as I have a child I am concerned that I will come back to a less responsible role, albeit, I am sure, one that gives me loads of flexibility. I also suspect that I will be managed by my colleague, who is less experienced than I am. If there is an opportunity for progression then what are my rights regarding applying for it during maternity leave? How can I argue with a woman who believes that I will gain crazy baby hormones as soon as my child arrives and will cease to care about my career? I am lucky, compared to your other posters as I do not currently believe that my job is at risk, but I do feel that I am about to be subjected to sexism (by my female! manager) and I don’t know how to fight it.

You are entitled to be informed about opportunities for promotion or vacancies when you are on maternity leave. Also, the fact that you are on maternity leave should not affect the company’s decision to offer you promotion. If they do not abide by these rules then you would have a claim for sex discrimination. In addition the comments made by the woman managing the restructure are discriminatory on the grounds of sex and could give rise to a claim for sex discrimination.

You can deal with this matter in one of two ways. You could raise a formal grievance about the comments made and make it very clear that you are ambitious and that you want to progress your career regardless of whether you have a baby. Alternatively, you could write a more informal letter/email stating that you have concerns about being overlooked for promotion due to being pregnant and when you are on maternity leave and making it clear that having a baby will not affect your ambitions. You could say that you would like to be informed of any vacancies and opportunities for promotion particularly in light of your direct line manager leaving. If you have already decided that you do not wish to work part time then you can also refer to that in your letter. If you wish to discuss this any further then please call Sarah Calderwood on 0161 975 3845.


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