The mysterious case of being invisible and my return to work

(27 Posts)
magictorch Tue 15-Oct-13 21:22:33

Hello,

Really hoping that some of you red-hot experts can help me out as I'm stuck on what to do next.

I'm on maternity leave from a very well known national brand, head office based. I was treated pretty shoddily before I left and have been looking for other jobs, but need to return to my job if I haven't found anything else.

My issue is that I have contacted my line manager and HR (always copying both if by email) several times (around 10 occasions since July) asking for a discussion about return to work, asking about KIT days, asking what forms I need to fill in etc about returning on compressed hours. Every email, voicemail and letter I've sent by recorded delivery with copies of the emails have been ignored and I have had no reply, other than one brief call from my line manager to say he was going on holiday and would be in touch when he got back - that was two months ago. I've even schlepped into work twice to show off the baby and visited HR, only to have shoulders shrugged at me.

It is now less than six weeks until I am due to return based on the dates I gave them. I have had absolutely zero contact from them and I am getting very, very worried. They did not get proper cover for my skilled, professional role and I have actually had suppliers contact me personally asking for help chasing payments, contacts and so on. Projects and things I have spent years on have been destroyed in just a few short months and I am filled with dread at the mess waiting for me and going back to being completely undervalued and treated like pants. I don't want to go back, but have to unless I find something else.

The major issues with the lack of response, other than having to think about the 'orrible place when I really don't want to, are that I was intending on taking some of my accrued holiday to 'pay' for a final month of maternity leave and that I've had to tell the nursery what days I need or risk losing our place. I am utterly in limbo due to this lack of contact from them.

So. I am officially invisible and I need to know what to do next - do I need to get me an employment lawyer? What happens if they continue to ignore me???

Helllp!!

magictorch Tue 15-Oct-13 21:26:40

Sorry, I should add that I downloaded the flexible working form from direct.gov in the absence of any contact from my employer and sent this recorded delivery too with a cover note detailing all previous contact attempts and summarising what I have asked for re. return to work, but have had no response to that either.

Sigh.

I suspect that they want me out.

joanofarchitrave Tue 15-Oct-13 21:38:13

Hell yes I would pay for some proper advice from an employment lawyer, tomorrow. You need to know exactly where you stand. Take all the records of everything you have done to contact them.

They sound more incompetent than evil tbh but that's not particularly reassuring.

I would also contact a headhunter, but IMO see the employment lawyer first and get my head up and sorted, before dazzling the headhunter with just what a hot prospect you are.

magictorch Sun 10-Nov-13 20:37:19

Hello - just bumping this as I still have had no contact from work and I'm now just two weeks away from my requested return to work date.

I have followed the advice from ACAS and the CAB, sent emails and recorded delivery letters to HR, my line manager and the HR director, left voicemails and quoted maternity discrimination laws and so on - and still nothing.

I really don't know what to do next.

I'm worried about paying the mortgage, about the nursery place etc.

The thing is my job is dependent on excellent relationships with the senior leaders, so any action I take will not go down well if indeed I have a job to go back to.

I can't believe they're treating me like this after eight years.

I've been applying for other jobs in my field, but there's not a lot out there.

What do I do next? I'm the main earner and beginning to panic.

Please help sad

magictorch Sun 10-Nov-13 20:38:04

I have no money to pay for lawyers - this us why I need to return to work.

spacegirl81 Sun 10-Nov-13 20:44:39

Might be worth seeing if your legal fees would be covered using your home insurance?

damejudydench Sun 10-Nov-13 20:54:43

Crikey, how awful.

No advice but just wanted to wish you the best of luck. What is the matter with some employers?

flowery Sun 10-Nov-13 20:56:54

This is bizarre! Two issues really. Firstly lack of contact, but ultimately you can just go back to work on the appropriate day. Secondly is failure to follow flexible working procedure, although of course the two are linked. Are any of the letters you have sent a grievance?

flowery Sun 10-Nov-13 20:58:05

Emails are easily ignored. When was the last time you phoned anyone, your manager or HR?

tribpot Sun 10-Nov-13 21:04:46

I'd be tempted to rock up for a keep in touch day. Sit outside the HR director's office for the whole day if necessary.

I really, really think you need to see a solicitor to fire a shot across the bows. But if you are this close to the margins in terms of being able to afford childcare and the mortgage, as the main earner you need to be sticking this out til something else comes up. How flexible can your partner be about childcare?

I would get back there, get your mandatory months worked as soon as possible, and work every contact you have to get the hell out of there. They clearly intend to force you out, in which case you're going to be financially stuffed. You need to be exploiting them more than they're exploiting you.

sleeplessbunny Sun 10-Nov-13 21:07:27

How awful, I hope you manage to find a new job soon. I am no expert, but I would say you are still legally employed by this firm and should fully expect to walk straight back into your job on the agreed date. Given the lack of contact, I would make sure I turned up for work as if nothing had changed, on that date. If you don't then they may have grounds for dismissal (perhaps that is what they are hoping for?) There should also be a formal procedure for raising a grievance, which given the lack of contact, I would initiate. I am shock that a large firm has the gall to behave in this way really. They are fully aware of the rules, surely. Are you still on the payroll at the moment? Do you have any friendly colleagues who could help?

Barnes1 Sun 10-Nov-13 21:12:50

Return to ACAS and seek advice. Please ensure you have copies of everything you have sent and make a note of any conversations you have had, with date, time, duration, person you spoke to, content of discussion. What is your actual return date? This treatment is disgraceful and completely ignores current employment legislation.

Sam100 Sun 10-Nov-13 21:23:33

Are you in a professional institute? The institute I belong to have an arrangement with employment lawyers who will have free initial chat on the phone to help you work through issues. Quite often large companies will also offer an "employee helpline" which will also offer counselling, legal advice etc .. Worth checking out if you have anything like this.

I would call your boss though to try and have a chat and check that they are at least going to be there on your first day back.

Going back to work is stressful enough without all this! Just turn up and smile.

joanofarchitrave Sun 10-Nov-13 21:24:00

I agree with flowery, you need to phone your line manager (obviously keeping records of the call). I would dress up in work clothes and make a list of points you want to talk through before the call. I would also start the call on the basis of 'Hi X, just calling in following my emails to say I'm looking forward to being back on Monday XXXX, I think it would be useful to have a KIT day a week from today, so if that suits I'll see you then'.

magictorch Sun 10-Nov-13 22:09:18

Thank you for all your replies.

Space girl, that's a great suggestion about legal fees, I'll definitely look into that first thing.

Sam100 I'm not a member of an official institute anymore, but I will look into that too, thanks.

I want to officially return in 2 weeks, but take December off as holiday, before physically returning after Christmas doing compressed hours. I'm on SMP now, so by not confirming that I can 'return' in December and therefore get a proper pay in December's payroll they are making it very hard to budget. I could scrape by (just) if they don't agree, but it would mean incurring some debt.

I have made calls (and logged them), sent emails to my line manager copying in HR and the HR director, sent recorded delivery letters, left voicemails and gone to the office - including sitting by the HR director's desk twice. I have logged everything including all calls and backed these up in writing - they actually sent back an acknowledgement slip to my last letter, but their 28 days is well and truly up. I have given them a whole list of dates I could meet. My line manager never picks up the phone so I always leave a voicemail. The person above him is a director.

Just turning up to work could be problematic as I work in one site and my line manager at another.

When I've asked about KIT days they ignored this too. Unfortunately my DH has no flexibility - combination of a new job and shifts.

I'm going to call the HR director first thing and have drafted another email to her too saying I have no choice but to take action now.

Sad it's come to this grin(

magictorch Sun 10-Nov-13 22:10:42

That was meant to be sad !

Hassled Sun 10-Nov-13 22:13:56

You're absolutely sure the Line Manager is still actually in post? Who's his/her line manager? Assuming no joy with HR tomorrow, I think you'll have to go up one rung of the ladder.

PukingCat Sun 10-Nov-13 22:20:05

It sounds like they are hoping you will just leave, rather than them having to make you redundant or something.

Arses.

kaymondo Sun 10-Nov-13 22:43:31

Sorry to hear you're being treated so poorly! As others have said, legally you have a right to return to your original role, or a suitable alternative at least depending on how long you've been on mat leave for. However, that doesn't help you with organising holiday and flexible working! If you get no joy with hr tmw, pm me if you like - I'm an employment lawyer so may be able to help x

magictorch Mon 11-Nov-13 12:59:09

Thanks Kaymondo - I called the HR director this morning and she's promised me a call back today. If I have not heard by 5pm I will send a letter with a formal grievance.

Line manager still in post - just useless.

I'm almost hoping they make me redundant - I certainly don't want to be there anymore. I've lost all respect for them.

magictorch Mon 11-Nov-13 15:48:19

So I've had two calls back from HR today and one from my line manager - we're meeting on Friday.

Amazing what threatening a grievance and mentioning maternity discrimination can do.

And the best bit? I've also had a call inviting me to interview for a fab new job in a couple of weeks!

sleeplessbunny Mon 11-Nov-13 16:22:01

smile great news! Best of luck with the interview.

FookingHat Mon 11-Nov-13 16:22:33

Brilliant. Go back to your job and if you are lucky they might make you redundant with a huge payout and then you could start your new fab job where you will be disgustingly successful! See, I've got it all planned out for you.

VisualCharades Mon 11-Nov-13 18:42:52

excellent good luck with the interview!!!!!

tribpot Mon 11-Nov-13 19:14:21

Good news all round. Your current firm are a complete disgrace, let's hope fab new job comes off soon!

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