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The HR Forum

HR Advice Greatly Appreciated

I am hoping one of you HR experts might be able to help me or advise me on a problem that I am encountering at work please. Three years ago, when I returned to work from maternity leave, I put in a flexible working request to work part time. The request was instantly granted with no issues. However, shortly before I was due to return to my old role, I was told that now that I am part time, I cannot carry out my old role, as it is a full time position (management role, within an office.). During my maternity leave, changes had occurred within the team and my old duties had been given to another employee, along with additional duties for that employee, under a different job title. I was told that although my salary/job title would remain the same, I now had to do project work on an ad hoc basis and assist colleagues as and when they required it. This was very different to the role I used to do. On my return to work I wasn’t happy with this and put in a grievance. The decision from the grievance was that I needed to be given more duties and some of my previous responsibilities. However, as time went by, this didn’t happen and due to the vast changes occurring within the team structure, more and more of my responsibilities started to become redundant. I found myself day after day staring at a blank screen with nothing to do. After many conversations with my line manager, I put in another grievance. The grievance was rejected, I appealed, and I was then told that my line manager, with support from the HR team would sit down and discuss my role with me. The conversations didn’t result in a positive outcome. Again, I was told that as I am part time, I’d need to be put into an alternative role. However, as there currently wasn’t a suitable role for me in the business, I’d have to seek out my own role. This resulted in me putting in another grievance. Again, this grievance didn’t create any positive developments and was inconclusive. I was told that many changes were due to occur within the department, so they couldn’t find me a suitable role at this time and to continue as I currently was doing, in my current role. Due to the significant amount of stress the grievances were causing me, the lack of workload, demotivation and exclusion from the team (due to the lack of work) I became depressed and suffered with high anxiety. As a result, I had to take time off work, on the sick. Although my company knew that my sickness was work related, they decided the best thing for me on my return to work, was to let me continue in my current role and still didn’t resolve the issues of having no duties to carry out. Shortly after my return to work, I fell pregnant again and decided to try and get through the next few months at work, before I started my maternity leave and not allow myself to become stressed or depressed again with the situation. It was also at this time that the organisation decided to regrade everyone and change job titles. This resulted in my job spec being reviewed and drawn up with my current, minimal duties. As a result, like all the other employees, I had to sign the new contract. Which as a result meant I was agreeing to my new revised job spec.

 

When I went off onto maternity leave a year ago now, no maternity cover was required and for over 1 year nobody has been doing my role. The role as it now is, is essentially redundant. I am due back to work in a few weeks and I have been in conversations with my organisation about my return to work. During the last few years, I have been studying my CIPD with DPG in my own time and I am now level 5 qualified. My line manager called me in a few weeks ago, to discuss my return to work and asked me what role I’d like to do on my return. Presumably because he knows my current role is no longer available. I explained that I am now CIPD qualified, so I’d be keen for a role within the HR department. He advised me that he would do some asking around, to see what opportunities there were for me. The outcome I have been given, is that there are no vacancies that match my requirements; therefore, I am to return to my previous role.

I’d be keen to get your thoughts and advise on this issue please. As it is over 3 years ago now that I experienced part time discrimination and the 3 previous grievances got me nowhere, I believe that this would not be a case that could go to a ET? Given that my role is now less interesting than it was prior to me having my first baby and I have been working under those conditions for 3 years, I presume that I have essentially accepted this? Plus, signing the new contract I presume that this would also suggest that I accept these duties? Having made it very clear to my company that the role is now not challenging enough, isolates me, demotivated me and has caused me depression in the past, is it not their duty to create a role that is suitable? For 3 years I have not had any KPI’s or a development plan, because I have no duties to fulfil. I feel like I am on the payroll, but I am not an employee within the company. If the role is redundant, which having had nobody covering it for over 1 year, this would suggest that it is, should they not be offering me redundancy? What steps would you suggest that I do next? Would this case qualify for construct unfair dismissal? Or would the case not be classed as being severe enough? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Replies

  • Hi Julia

    I do feel for your and your situation,my initial reaction would always to be try to resolve this amicably with your employer and see what can be achieved through discussions.

    If this does not resolve things satisfactorily it may be worth speaking with an employment lawyer. Many will often provide an initial one to one where they will make an assessment of your case and the likely costs involved, or again open up discussions with your employer to bring the matter to an amicable resolution.

    Good Luck

    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for replying to me. I had a meeting with my line manager on Friday, where I asked many questions and I was told he will need to speak to the HRBP and come back to me. I also found out that there was a discretionary annual pay rise recently for some employees (paid out in April's pay), but I didnt receive one. The criteria was performance related and to bring any employees pay inline, for anyone who is below par. I asked why I havent received a pay rise during maternity leave or if I'm expected to get one and again I was told he didnt know and would need to speak to HR. I guess this could be classed as maternity discrimination?

      They have also not kept me in the loop with any business updates or internal vacancies during my maternity leave and keep telling me to look on their website for any vacancies I'm interested in applying for. Again, during maternity leave should I have not been sent the internal vacancy list, especially given that my current role is at risk?

      I feel that I would like to speak to an employment lawyer and get their thoughts on the issue, to finally bring my case to a close. Can I go direct to a lawyer or should I be going through ACAS first for early consiliation?

      Many Thanks,

      Julia

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