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Unsure of your equality rights or the law? We can provide advice and assistance for people who feel they have been discriminated against.
 
 

Unfavourable treatment

Returning to work after maternity leave
Pregnancy at work

What you need to know

 

Unfavourable treatment and constructive dismissal


I have been excluded from meetings since my return to work. Is this discrimination?

You must not be treated less favourably because you have been on maternity leave. This would include being excluded from meetings you would otherwise have attended. It is advisable to raise any concerns you have with your manager. Ask why you are being treated differently i.e. not included in the meeting – there may be a good reason, which has nothing to do with your maternity leave or it may have been an oversight. If the decision to exclude you was made for a reason relating to your maternity leave then this is likely to be maternity discrimination.

When I returned to work my desk had been moved and I now sit on my own. What can I do?

You must not be treated unfavourably because you have been on maternity leave. This would include moving your desk to a worse position.

It is advisable to raise any concerns you have with your manager or Human Resources department. Ask why you have been moved and explain the impact on you. If the decision to move you was made for a reason relating to your maternity leave then this is likely be maternity discrimination.
 

Since returning to work I am unable to meet my targets as some of my work has not been returned to me. What can I do?

You must not be treated less favourably because you have been on maternity leave. You should raise your concerns with your manager informally and ask that you be given the same amount of work you had before your maternity leave. You could ask for your targets to be adjusted until you are given your work back so that you are able to meet your targets.

If you cannot resolve this informally, you may need to raise a grievance outlining the work you did before your maternity leave and how this has changed. If this does not resolve matters you will have to decide whether to continue with your job, take a discrimination claim to the industrial tribunal or, if you feel it impossible to remain, resign and claim constructive dismissal.
 

Some of my work has not been returned to me and I feel vulnerable to redundancy. What can I do?

You must not be treated less favourably because you have been on maternity leave. You should raise your concerns with your manager informally and ask that you be given the same amount of work you had before your leave. You could ask for your targets to be adjusted until you are given your work back and so are able to meet your targets.

If you cannot resolve this informally, you may need to put in a grievance explaining the work you did before your maternity leave and how this has changed. If this does not resolve matters you will have to decide whether to continue with your job or, if you feel it impossible to remain, resign and claim constructive dismissal.
 

Can I resign if I feel I am being treated badly and it is impossible for me to remain in work?

You could resign and claim constructive dismissal if you have been discriminated against and trust and confidence between you and your employer has gone; for example, your job responsibilities have been given to another employee because of your maternity leave. But you need to be sure that you want to leave and can afford to do so.

Constructive dismissal is difficult to prove so if possible take advice, for example, from your union, or from a solicitor. You cannot rely on getting compensation through bringing an industrial tribunal claim.

You may want to take into account:
 

  • Whether your health is badly affected by what is happening in work
  • Your finances: can you afford to resign?
  • Your job prospects: it is often easier to get a job when you are working
  • The strength of any claim you have. You should seek professional advice


Before resigning, you should explain in writing why you are planning to do this and wait for your employer to respond. You should include the main reasons why you decided to resign and the last incident, which led to your decision. It may be worth taking some advice about the exact wording, but the letter should be written by you.

If your employer has a grievance procedure, it is advisable to raise a grievance under that. If you do bring a tribunal claim, compensation may be reduced if you have not raised a grievance before taking the formal claim.

 

How quickly do I need to resign after being treated badly in order to have a strong Tribunal claim?

Generally, you should resign without waiting too long otherwise your employer may argue that you accepted their behaviour, which would weaken any claim you might have at an industrial tribunal. In the meantime, you should write to your employer to make it clear that you object to the discriminatory treatment so it cannot be said that you accepted it.
 
 

How do I show that I have been constructively dismissed?

To demonstrate that you have been constructively dismissed you need to show that:
 

  • your employer behaved so badly, (which includes discriminating against you), that trust and confidence between you has fundamentally broken down
  • you resigned because of your employer’s behaviour, and
  • you did not wait too long before you resigned. 
 
 
 
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