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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I work at a University in business development. I used to

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I work at a University in business development.
I used to work full-time but I have had two children since I started and I now work part-time, 3 days a week.
After my first maternity leave (1 year), my job was changed – split with me focused on my strategic role and line managing someone junior on the operational aspect. It was roughly the same level of responsibility. Before I became pregnant again, I was nearly forced to ‘come back full-time or resign’ – my director would not approve my flexible working pattern because of operational need. (in this case she needed more management capacity). I dodged that bullet by proposing an assistant to work with me to deliver the job. I therefore line managed 2 members of staff
After my second maternity leave (1 year), I was offered a different business development role; a new project which I could ‘grow as my children grew’. I was no longer required to line manage the 2 staff; my maternity cover was promoted to a more senior role (a new layer of management)and now part-line manages me. I accepted the new job description at the time (last March). I was also no longer required to attend more senior management meetings.
After nearly a year, I feel I have been treated unfairly due to status as a parent and my part-time hours. The maternity leave policy states that they would offer me a role with similar role and responsibilities.
Have I been treated unfairly? Can I do anything about it since I agreed the new job description at the time? (I felt fairly vulnerable and that I had no other option at the time)
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Firstly can you give me your total length of service with the company please.


7 years

Ben Jones :

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in a tribunal today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you this evening. There is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you


Thank you.

Ben Jones :

Thanks for your patience. the first thing to check is the person’s contract to see what hours she is actually contracted to work and if the employer can ask her to do any overtime if it takes her above her contacted hours.

If the contract has her contracted for more than 16 hours or they can ask her to do overtime from time to time then they are allowed to do so. Saying that if she is unable t work these hours because of her disability, she can argue that the employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist her if her disability is placing her at a substantial disadvantage wen compared to other non-disabled employees.

In these circumstance a reasonable adjustment could be cap on hours or some lighter duties that means she is not affected as much. But it would depend on hat the effects of the work are and what would be best suited for her to get in the circumstances – different adjustments would work in different situations it would depend on her circumstances.

I hope this clarifies your position? If you could please quickly let me know that would be great, as it is important for us to keep track of customer satisfaction. Thank you

Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry as you may have realised I just posted the wrong response on here - it was meant for another query. I have tied to locate yours but cannot seem to find it so will have to start from scratch and post it again on here. However due to the late hour I won't be able to do so until the morning - please accept my apologies for this and I will get back to you as soon as I can, thank you

Ben Jones :

Good morning, let’s try again, hopefully it will work this time. The main issue you would face here is the time that has elapsed since the changes were introduced. Not only would there have been an implied acceptance by you to these changes because you did not register a complaint or any other indication that you were not happy with the situation (for example raising a grievance) but you are likely out of time to take it further legally anyway. This is due to the strict time limits on claiming for any type of discrimination, which are set at 3 months from the date of the alleged discriminatory conduct. So if the alleged discrimination occurred at the time you returned from maternity leave or had your job changed then this was a year ago and you would be way out of time to make any type of claim for maternity/pregnancy or sex discrimination. It does not prevent you from raising the issue with the employer but if they reject your complaints your options become somewhat limited in terms of formal steps you can take to progress this any further. As you are out of time to make a claim for discrimination and cannot consider constructive dismissal either as too much time has passed since the alleged breaches and you would have implied your acceptance to these changes.

I hope this clarifies your position and apologies for the earlier mix up. Thank you

Customer: Thank you. I would be interested to know if it would've been considered discrimination.. Just so I can mentally put it to bed so to speak.
Customer: Thanks
Ben Jones :

It would depend on a few factors. 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. Case law has suggested that formal reorganisations can amount to a justifiable reason, whereas a simple preference over someone providing maternity cover will not suffice. 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 potential discrimination does exist but it does depend on the reasons used by the employer and if they can show they have followed the above rules.

Hope this clarifies matters a bit more for you?

Customer: Yes, it does thank you. I need to put it to bed now!
Customer: best wishes
Customer: m
Ben Jones :

you are most welcome, all the best

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