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Maternity Discrimination

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Ljb2018, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. Ljb2018

    Ljb2018 New commenter

    I have been working at a school as a history teacher for a number of years and took one year of maternity leave from December 2017-2018.

    When I returned to work I had no reintegration meeting, and found that there was no longer any vacancies in the history department. I had agreed with SLT that I would work 5 KIT days prior to returning properly to get to know my classes and sort out my marksheets etc. But for 3/5 KIT days I had very little to do as no-one seemed sure what would be on my timetable.

    Eventually I was given some geography classes that were being taught by a cover supervisor as well as some geography classes from other teachers’ timetables, I assume to fill my own timetable as I didn’t have enough hours. I have also been given 5 hours of Spanish a fortnight, despite not knowing a word of the language.

    For 3 hours a week I ‘support’ the history department by going 1:1 work (like a TA) with individual students.

    Other than that, I have no history on my timetable.

    Can anyone tell me if this sounds like it could be a case of maternity discrimination? And what (if anything) can I do about it?

  2. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    You don't say anything about the situation of the person who is doing the number of classes you would have done. Did they get Maternity Cover in? If so, what is the school's commitment to that person?
    it's possible that the point in time of your return after Maternity makes it impossible to reintegrate you fully with your subject, but maybe that will change back in the timetabling for next year.
    Unfortunately that is how it goes with subject specialist teaching-you are expected to fulfill the role of classroom teacher and pick up the pieces in areas lacking, especially if you are not around or if your return is unknown, as in Maternity Leave.
    I doubt very much whether it is Maternity Discrimination. How else are they supposed to keep an overview of the timetabling, if they do not know how long you are going to be away?
    In the case of all the subjects you do not specialise in, you ought to make it clear re the Spanish that you can only deliver cover type lessons, and anything else where you can say "I do not know this subject". Personally, I get the worry about Spanish, but not Geography, which I have also taught as a non specialist-you read up on it, it is comprehensible, you deliver it. Presumably you are being given the resources for these bits and peices, in which case you actually may have an easier time than in History, where you'd be expected to plan your own stuff, no?
    Go speak about your concerns-the bigger worry to me would be if they say "no, we are not putting you back to History next year"

    Don't forget-beyond the next half term is the point when all teachers can honestly say "ach, not sure where this year's gone, July will be here in five minutes". It's true. Happens every year.
    agathamorse, gadgetgirl123 and nomad like this.
  3. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    I think you need to discuss this with your Union. I completed several maternity covers and they always ended the moment the post holder returned.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. berry3534

    berry3534 New commenter

    I think that you need to speak to your union or an employment solicitor. The timescales are very short to raise an action, three months less one day.
    They should have held your job open not replaced you. You at least need a back to work interview to discuss further.
    I am currently going through a similar process post maternity leave and the union has been brilliant. Call them first and good luck.
    Marshall, Jamvic and agathamorse like this.
  5. gadgetgirl123

    gadgetgirl123 Occasional commenter

    This is why I returned in September from maternity rather than take a full year, as otherwise I would have been teaching where the "gaps" were.

    Other than the Spanish, which is ridiculous, the rest sounds reasonable. It is unreasonable to expect to walk back into the same job mid year.

    I assume you will go back to teaching history in September?
    caterpillartobutterfly and nomad like this.
  6. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    They have. The OP is employed by the school. I assume the OP's contract states "teacher" and is no more specific than that.
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    On two levels-
    Firstly, as per previous post, OP has not been replaced. They still have teaching hours and are paid the same. And I'm not exactly sure what you mean about timescales. From when? What is the exact event in question?
    Secondly, from my own experience of Maternity Leave (3 times), it felt most odd to come back into school. Not because I had missed the experience or forgotten the ropes, but more because I was acutely aware that I was trying to step back into a situation where many people will have inevitably forgotten what I'm about. Some new kids. Some colleagues who'd done nice displays in what was my room. Several important meetings missed, so lots of information to catch up on. Given the inherent humility in this situation-walking back into a community of multiple hundreds of people, I would not have dreamed of seeking union advice on something like this. I focused on finding my feet again, staying in the shadows until I felt I was back up to speed with everything. The odd bitty timetable they cobbled together for me was actually lovely-I got to see the kids in different lessons, they got to remember me, I was given cover work so the workload was a breeze.
    Dunno, maybe it's a character thing, but had I felt something was contractually wrong I'd have sat on it for a bit, tried to talk to my managers maybe. Coming back from Maternity to a certain extent is like being a newbie again for a while. It's not just your place, it's a whole community.
    Dunno, s'ppose times may have changed. Fight fight fight.
  8. Ljb2018

    Ljb2018 New commenter

    I checked my contract and I’m clearly employed as a History Teacher. Apologies, I should have included that in the original post.
    Jamvic and nomad like this.
  9. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    In which case you may well have a case.
    Jamvic and agathamorse like this.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Thing is, they have given you some history to do, some one to one, which I assume may not have otherwise happened had you not been there. And you cannot rule out reverting to your specialism in September.
    From the school's point of view, they are asking you to slot in in a reasonable way due to returning mid year, and if you look at your contract, there will be a clause towards the end, that catch-all in your list of responsibilities which says something like "and anything else the school requires you to do in the course of your duties"
    So I cannot see you have any sort of "case". There is little else the school could reasonably do. But as I said, come September, if you are not back to history, that would be different. You'll be able to check whether this is planned straight away-just go and ask your HT.
    None of this has happened because of you going on Maternity leave per se-rather, it has happened because it is the only workable way they were able to cover your absence whilst at the same time not being able to say when you would return.
    caterpillartobutterfly and nomad like this.
  11. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    If the OP's contract is as a 'teacher of History', I doubt any court/tribunal would accept that her timetable (as described above) fits the contract. Therefore she may have a case for 'breach of contract'. In addition there is the fact that she has been on maternity leave, a status which has special protection.

    Therefore expert legal advice from her Union or an employment solicitor is vital.

    PS Having done the cover & supply for a school for a number of years, I can say we would NEVER have done what is described here as it was regarded as unprofessional, unethical and illegal. This was a time ago, maybe the law has changed. But I doubt it.
    berry3534, Jamvic and agathamorse like this.
  12. agathamorse

    agathamorse Senior commenter

    I’ve done several maternity covers and they’ve always ended when the teacher on maternity returned to school, be that mid Feb, mid May or this year my contract is due to end sometime in June. I can’t see why the maternity cover is still in place here.
    berry3534 likes this.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    But that's just not a sensible response.
    Here is the scenario
    OP takes this to court. To a tribunal. (And thereby sours relations with her employer no doubt). It takes a month or so to prepare the case. It takes time and effort. And finally the outcome is acheived a year later.
    By which time it wont be valid anyway, because in September the school are able to reallocate History to her.
    Why is this so difficult to see?

    Edit-that was replying to #11
  14. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Your point is taken. However, I suspect that the school could quite justifiably shrug its corporate shoulders and say that they started the academic year not knowing when, or even if, the OP was going to return from maternity leave and in the best interests of the pupils and their continuity of education, they will keep the current timetable until the end of the year.

    It is not all about teachers and their supposed employment rights. It is also about the pupils.

    The OP can start teaching history again in September if, indeed, that is what the contract states. The pupils can not start their current year again which, if it is Year 11 or U6, is quite important to them.
  15. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    Why was there no vacancies? Falling numbers or because person brought into cover maternity was kept on? If the school knew your return date and kept the 'supply' in you previous role then I perfectly understand your anger.
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. Ljb2018

    Ljb2018 New commenter

    No-one was taken on for a temporary maternity cover position. Instead, when I told my school that I was pregnant they arranged for a teach first trainee to start in September. The problem being of course that teach first is a two year training programme.
    agathamorse likes this.
  17. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    If thry took on a two year Teach First, it reads to me as though the school were cynically thinking you wouldn't return.
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. Ljb2018

    Ljb2018 New commenter

    In that case do you think I have grounds to claim discrimination as a position was not left open for me? And as a result our department is now over staffed resulting in me having to teach geography and Spanish instead of my actual subject.
  19. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    That really is a question only your Union (or employment solicitor) can answer.
  20. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    I'm not sure.

    The school might have expected you to resign whilst on maternity, or return on a part time basis. Your Union will be better placed to give you legal advice on this.

    Your contract might say History Teacher. Mine did in my last school but I was timetabled KS3 RS and A Level Politics as well. Some HTs will interpret the role of teacher as broadly as they can. Speak to your Union.
    agathamorse likes this.

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