Returning to work after maternity leave - what can employer change?

Discussion in 'Work, Careers, Employment rights, further study' started by Learner2015, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. Learner2015

    Learner2015 Frequent Poster

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    I have a friend returning to work at the end of the month who is worried that she will be put into a different role and won't be allowed to work from home anymore - she normally worked 3 days a week from home.

    She is with the company about 6 years and is well regarded etc in a fairly senior role.

    The question is would the ability to work from home be considered part of her normal conditions of employment and one the employer would need to honour on her return? She has a fairly long commute to the office so losing this would be really bad for her!

    To be fair to her she understands that company's can't stand still while people on maternity leave and she is more than happy to do whatever a new role might entail (within reason) its just the working from home part that she is worried about.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?
     
  2. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    What does her contract say about working from home and for how long has she worked from home?
     
  3. Learner2015

    Learner2015 Frequent Poster

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    Hi purple, the only contract she has is the one she got when she started in the company years ago in an entry level position. Since then all she has received is letters notifiyng of pay increases and new titles on promotion.

    On her last promotion circa 2 years ago again she received a letter confirming her salary increase and new job title and was told that due to the nature of her new role she could work from home 5 days a week if she wanted to but chose to work 3 days a week from home in order to stay in touch with colleagues etc. She has worked this pattern ever since up until she went on maternity leave.

    I called into Free Legal Advice yesterday and they are of the opinion that as she has worked this way for a period of time it now forms part of her contractual terms instead of being a work practice. Would you agree?
     
  4. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    Yes. The absence of details in a contract strengthens the hand of the employee, not the employer.
     
  5. Learner2015

    Learner2015 Frequent Poster

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    Thanks Purple, look I suppose when she returns things could be fine and there is no need to be worrying now. Its more just about preparing for the worst and having a little knowledge around it and hoping for the best.

    Personnally due to her senior position and the fact I'm assuming she must have some value to the company based on here quick ascention through the ranks over the years I am of the view that they will slot her in to a good fit for all.

    However I also have a nagging suspicion that the company may table redundancy. I have no evidence or anything re the redundancy its more from 2 other friends of mine that were both made redundant on their return to work after maternity. If the employer was to go down this route do they need to do to prove a redundancy situation exists, is there anything really an employee can do to stop it?

    One last thing, say the company say tough this is your new role, like it or lump it, can the employee then asert that the company have created a redundancy situation and demand (suggest?) that they make her a redundancy offer?
     
  6. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    The role she returns to must be the same or similar. If the employer deliberately makes it difficult for her, or changes conditions significantly, she may have grounds for a constructive dismissal case.

    After 6 years with a company, and in a senior position, your friend should know the lay of the land and how the company has treated others in a similar position before. My sense is that most companies that offer the flexibility shown prior to maternity leave won't all of a sudden retract from that position upon her return.
     
  7. Learner2015

    Learner2015 Frequent Poster

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    Yeah she has mentioned that on the whole they are good to staff however in the time she has been on leave her direct boss left and the department she worked in was subsumed by another section of the company so there is a completely new structure in place.

    In fairness returning to work from maternity must be very hard anyway so thats obviosuly compounding her worry and stress, I think the best thing to do is to tell her to enjoy her last few weeks of leave and deal with whatever comes her way in December.

    Say if the worst happens and they do go down the route of well this is what we can offer, no more working from home. Instead of going the constructive dismissal route can she ask for redundancy?
     
  8. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    She has no entitlement to redundancy simply if changing terms and conditions do not suit her. Redundancy must involve a role the company eliminating a role entirely, and not a particular person.
     
  9. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    There are others here better qualified to answer those questions.
    It seems to me that she is worrying about something that probably won't happen. She may just need to keep her mind occupied (and might be a bit paranoid due to sleep deprivation! :D)
     
  10. Learner2015

    Learner2015 Frequent Poster

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    Leo noted.

    Purple I think you might be right, I'd say sleep has been greatly reduced!!!

    Thanks to the both of you, appreciated.
     
  11. Learner2015

    Learner2015 Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017 at 3:59 PM
    Actually just on this Leo say if her role was gone cause it might very will be with the re orginisation and they offer her a new role that happens not have working from home - could she request redundancy in this situation?
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017 at 3:59 PM
  12. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    No, they can't eliminate here role while she is on maternity, and most companies would be wary of doing so shortly after she returns to work. Redundancy only applies when the company is eliminating a role completely.