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Being refused work because others are cheaper

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by friarsyear1, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. friarsyear1

    friarsyear1 New commenter


    I returned from my maternity leave after 6 months. I spoke with the headteacher in May (6 months) about returning in Sum 2 for one day a week. She agreed and said that she would look at increasing the number of days from January (2019).

    I did not start in Sum 2 and was told that I could not be accommodated. After several e-mail exchanges with the HR woman (the school is an academy and part of a MAT) she agreed to start to pay me from the first week of the summer holidays.

    I spoke to the headteacher on my first day back in September and explained that I had been offered another day for my daughter to be in nursery and would that work as my additional day. She said there was too much cover (!) and in order for me to be offered another day, someone would have to drop a day. Fast forward half a term: one cover tutor dropped 2 days, one cover tutor dropped 1 day and a teacher is off on long term sick awaiting her hip operation (and potentially a 3 month recovery period). I put this to the head teacher and received a response this morning saying that all of the hours are covered.

    I have to work 65 days in order to retain my maternity pay. If I continue to work at this academy and find employment in another school (academy or LA run), will those days contribute towards my 65 days? I’m assuming they won’t.

    I’m so frustrated because essentially I’m being stopped from returning to my job because the school has offered money to unqualified members of staff. It’s a huge risk to all of the children who won’t be receiving quality teaching and makes me wonder why I went through the hassle of qualifying when I could have just walked into the job with no qualifications!!

    Thank you in advance for your advice.

  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    How many days a week were you working before you went on ML?

    Did you make a formal Flexible Working request to change your number of days when you returned from ML? To what? Was the Flexible Working request agreed?

    Have you consulted your union on this? What do they say?
  3. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    If you agreed to work one day a week, isn't that what you got? Please excuse me if I am misunderstanding you. A promise to 'look at increasing...' is not a promise to give you extra days, so I doubt if it is worth anything to you.

    The way I read it, as a non-expert, is that if you made a formal request to work one day a week, you have got what you asked for and cannot expect more. You also can't make another such request for a year, so can't ask for more days formally. What I am less sure about is what happens if your request was not formal. Perhaps you could now make a formal request for extra days. If you did, the school would have to give you a good business reason for not agreeing. Perhaps mot having extra hours to give might be a reason for the time being.

    As suggested above, your union can advise you better.
    Pomza, JohnJCazorla, strawbs and 2 others like this.
  4. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Don’t understand this - taking maternity leave has nothing to do with how many hours you are contracted to work.

    You are entitled to return from maternity leave to the same terms and conditions (including hours) you had when you left - nothing else.

    You can request to vary your hours upwards or downwards, but cannot expect such a request to be automatically accommodated.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    It seems a bit harsh on your head for you to be venting your frustration that you haven't been offered more days this term, when all they said was they would 'look at' increasing your days from January!
    Pomza likes this.
  6. friarsyear1

    friarsyear1 New commenter

    Thank you for your responses.

    Perhaps I should have said that I have been discussing with the head about the extra day from January. When we spoke in May she made it clear that one day a week would not be sustainable for the long term so I have been anticipating an extra day to start in January. I spoke to her in September because my daughter’s nursery asked me to confirm if I wanted the Monday that they had available (to start from January).

    Prior to my ML I was working full time.

    I am awaiting a response from my union. They haven’t mentioned a FWR in past conversations/e-mails.

    If I had been told in May or September (when I spoke with the head) that there would be absolutely no option to have an additional day, I would not be asking for one. However, I have been expecting this additional day since May and then again in September I was told that I would have a day if someone else dropped a day (as explained in my first message, 3 days have been dropped).
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Well, as @Pomza says, if you haven't made a formal Flexible Working Request then you are entitled to go back exactly as you were before ML, ie full time.

    It sounds maybe you don't want to do that and want to go back part-time. It's not their responsibility to explain the Flexible Working Regulations to you, it's up to you to you make a FWR request for the number of hours/days you want.

    Why not put in a formal FWR request? Get advice from your union first.
  8. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Sorry, but it all seems a bit too informal. The correct procedure would be to decide what you want/need and make a formal request for flexible working. It seems that you asked for one day a week (is that right?) with the hope of more later, and this is not enough to make the school give you that extra day.

    It seems to me that your best bet, as has been suggested, would be to make a FWR request asking for the number of days you really want. If you do, the school would have to agree or give you a good business reason why not. I suppose it is possible that, now that the deadline for leaving at the end of December is passed, they could say that staffing is already fixed for next term - whether this is a valid reason I can't say.

    Doesn't the OP having agreed to do one day a week mean that she has waived the right to work full time?
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I wondered about that but it's not at all clear to me whether any formal agreement to alter the contracted hours has happened so I think OP needs to discuss with her union. Even if she has agreed it as she hasn't made a formal FWR request she can still put one in now for whatever hours it is she wants to work. It's only formal FWR requests that can only be once every 12 months.
  10. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Many agreements to change hours are made without a formal process. If an agreement is made to change a contract, then surely that stands without a formal FWR request. A contract can be changed by agreement.

    Yes, I think the same. What I was wondering is whether a school would be justified in refusing a request to increase hours because it is too late to change staffing arrangement for next term.
  11. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Yes - I think we are saying the same thing. It doesn't need a request under the Flexible Working Regulations but to change your working hours needs an agreement between both sides, 'formal' in the sense of a clear and definite agreement recorded in writing. I'm unsure whether that's happened between OP and her head.
  12. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Possibly. One of the permissible reasons for refusing a FWR request is "the work can’t be reorganised among other staff" so it could come under that. It has to be true though! Not just a cover for "we could organise the timetable differently but can't be ar$ed"!
  13. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I have a vague recollection that if an employee works on without complaining after a change in contract, then they are taken as having agreed to it, but I don't know where this came from. However, in any case, it does seem that the OP did agree to the change of contract, whether there is written evidence of this or not. And, it doesn't seem as if full time would suit.

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