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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48717
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I am an Executive Assistant and have been on maternity leave.

Customer Question

I am an Executive Assistant and have been on maternity leave. When I go back to work I will be working within a team of 5 EA's, and I within this team I used to work for the most senior members of staff, but when I go back I will now be replacing the most junior member of the team. My job title, salary and employment contract remain the same so officially I have not been demoted, but from a practical perspective I very much have been. Do I have a case for discrimination?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello how long have you worked there for?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, I've worked there since October 2013.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I used to work for a member of the Group Board and members of her Senior Management Team. I was told that it was no longer practical for me to work for the board member as my son is in nursery and I would need to leave the office to collect him, therefore would not be able to work overtime.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The most junior member of the team, who was an Admin Assistant up until a few months ago when she was promoted to an Executive Assistant has just resigned and left the team and I was told there would be a straight swap with me into her role. She has been working for 3 years and been an EA for a few months. I have a degree and been working for over 20 years, and have been an EA for approximately 13 years.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your patience. According to Reg. 18 of The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999, an employee who takes Additional Maternity Leave (i.e. between 6-12 months off) is entitled “to return to the job in which she was employed before her absence, or, if it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to permit her to return to that job, to another job which is both suitable for her and appropriate for her to do in the circumstances.” This means that there is no guarantee of a return to the job you performed before going on maternity leave. If the employer can show that it is not reasonably practicable to allow you to return to that job, they need to find you something that is both suitable and appropriate for you to do instead. A common issue that arises is whether the reason for not being reasonably practicable to allow the employee to return to her old job is actually justifiable. The employer needs to show that there is a genuine reason which makes it no longer practicable to allow you to return to your old job, this is not just a formality. So if the lack of doing overtime is a genuine issue which makes it no longer practicable to do the old job, that may be a potential reason for not allowing you to return to that job. However, if there are ways around this then the employer could be acting in a discriminatory manner. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the options you have to take the matter further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. In terms of taking the matter further, the options available to challenge this depend on what has happened so far:· If your employment has not terminated but you are unreasonably being denied the opportunity to return to your old job, that could amount to pregnancy and maternity discrimination and/or unlawful detriment. You can raise a formal grievance to challenge this.· If you have been given an alternative job which you find unsuitable, then you could resign and make a claim for constructive dismissal and/or sex discrimination. Each of the above claims will be made in the employment tribunal and you can seek compensation for loss of earnings and/or injury to feelings.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks for the information. What do you think is the best approach I should take to get my ol job back?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, nothing will guarantee that you return to your old job. However, in the first instance you should consider the grievance route as that is the accepted approach to try and resolve such issues. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance you can formally appeal it. After that tribunal is really the only option you have, being mindful of the short time limits to make a claim.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What do you mean by the short time frame?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
3 months from time of discriminatory act for a discrimination claim or 3 months from time of resignation for a constructive dismissal claim