Job change while on maternity leave – do I have any rights?

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    I have been with my company for more than 10 years and at the beginning of last year applied for, and accepted a promotion to a fairly senior position within the team. It was the job I’d always wanted and knew I’d be good at. Being largely project work, I was able to negotiate four compressed days in the office and then a couple of hours working from home on the fifth so I could spend additional time with my DD. Just before Christmas I left for maternity leave to have my second child – and 15 minutes before I walked out the door my boss called me into a room and told me they were reorganising the team and would be changing my job role – taking away half of it and replacing it with completely different responsibilities – that I had never wanted to do and would never have applied for. The new side of the job has completely different pressures and deadlines and is very much at the mercy of other teams requirements, making it quite reactive and with quarterly peaks and troughs. It will be incredibly hard to do with two small children, requiring me to be in the office 5 days a week, sometimes staying late at the last minute, and of course I will have to do something I have never wanted to do.

    My question is given I am taking the whole year on maternity leave do I have any recourse on this? I’ve not been issued with any new contract or paperwork even though more than 50% of my job has changed.

    I am absolutely dreading my return to work and would appreciate any advice.
    Thank you



    Companies have to have a good reason to change your contracted hours, so firstly I’d ask them for a full breakdown of their reasoning and their ‘business justification’ for doing so. How many other people will be affected? How do they feel?
    Do you have a union? If so speak to them.
    If they’re changing your job role they have to give you a new contract, which you can accept or appeal against. If you don’t want the new job, yet they have good business reasons for the re-structure, they could look at making you redundant if you don’t accept. Again, there are appeals processes to this.
    I’ve been through something similar when I was on mat leave. They decided the week before I returned that they were re-structuring (only my job!) and that my position would have to be in London when I work in the office 200 miles away. They never offered a relocation package, just said I was being made redundant. To be brief, it was a bitch of a boss who was doing what she could to get rid of me. My solicitor got involved and they backed down and I ended up moving teams by my own choice anyway. This was a large global company who should know better.
    Just because they do these things, doesn’t mean they’re right or legal, so I’d get some more advice and stand your ground!!!

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