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New Colleague advice

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by jago123, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Hi everyone,

    Back in September, I offered a candidate a teaching job to start in January 2018. The candidate accepted the job and has resigned from her current role and has met with members of the department she will be joining.
    I met with this colleague today and she informed me that she was pregnant and is due to give birth in May 2018. She told me she was aware of her pregnancy when I interviewed her but has decided to only tell me now.
    This causes me with an inconvenience as I will need to recruit for this role again as the colleague plans to go on maternity at the end of April.
    Do I have any ground to withdraw my offer of employment as they withheld such information from me?
  2. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    If an employee is offered a job when pregnant, the earliest the law requires her to tell you that you she is pregnant (in order to be able to take advantage of her right to maternity leave) is the end of the 15th week before the baby is due, although she can tell you earlier to claim health and safety protection, or paid time-off for antenatal care, which is what she has done.

    However, she will not qualify for SMP because she must have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due.

    In summary, nothing you can do about it. Employment law is on her side. That said, contact your HR provider and make sure you are doing things right.
    GLsghost likes this.
  3. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    I'm actually genuinely staggered that this is even being asked.
    Are you actually saying you would not have employed her had you known she was pregnant?
    That would land you in some serious hot water.

    The correct response is "congratulations" - and then to think about recruitment for maternity cover once she has confirmed when she will take leave. Handle it well, and she may come back!
    Inconvenient it maybe; but she has done nothing wrong. She could have lost the baby before starting work with you in January - after all, back in September she would only have just realised she was pregnant herself!
  4. WJClarkson

    WJClarkson Occasional commenter

    I hope this was a joke.
    nomad likes this.
  5. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    I’m not looking to withdraw the offer because of the fact she is pregnant, it’s the fact she told me yesterday and said that she might not be returning after the maternity leave.
  6. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    In that case, I could set her up on a temporary contract then review it after.
  7. WJClarkson

    WJClarkson Occasional commenter

    If she's been made a job offer with a permanent contract, I don't think you change it without her consent.

    @GLsghost might know more?
  8. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    If I wasn't currently indisposed I would be elbowing my way to the front of the queue to volunteer to represent her pro bono to sue you, both for pregnancy discrimination under Equality Act and automatic unfair dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996. Average damages in a pregnancy discrimination case is £10,000. Liability can be personal in addition to the employing organisation and there is ample evidence in your posts of discrimination acting on your decision-making processes. Naturally your posts will have been screen-grabbed already.

    Seriously, you are digging yourself a bigger and bigger hole and you should take advice from your HR advisers or legal department without delay. You really don't know what you don't know!
  9. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Indeed. This would be 'unfavourable treatment' 'because of' her pregnancy and would give rise to an unfair dismissal claim, in addition to one of pregnancy discrimination and breach of contract.
    ATfan, Sundaytrekker and nomad like this.
  10. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Using Claude Littner’s line from the Apprentice last night...
  11. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    I will be meeting with the CoG tomorrow and this is on the agenda to be discussed.
    Having had a think about it, I will keep this teacher on a permanent contract and then just recruit a temporary teacher to cover the maternity.
    This is the only viable option.
  12. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Unless the CoG is a lawyer, you need legal advice on this. Don't just take the CoG's advice on it. S/He might be making it up on the hoof too.

    Her rights are engaged when she notifies you in writing, technically, but as a good employer you will want to ensure that:

    * risk assessments are carried out and regularly reviewed;
    * she is given paid time off for ante-natal appointments if she needs it;
    * any pregnancy-related sickness absences are not counted within the normal absence-management procedures.
    Sundaytrekker and nomad like this.
  13. Melj16

    Melj16 New commenter

    It makes me so sad reading this
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Whereas it makes me happy to see that people new to their role can ask about situations which are frustrating and receive advice.

    Better to ask here (and perhaps make a bit of a twit of yourself, sorry @jago123;) ) than get into a mess at work.
  15. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Better, indeed and I admire @jago123 for asking for advice.

    I usually pick up clients when something along those lines has already been done to the worker. Much more preferable to avoid the difficulties happening in the first place.

    [As an aside @jago123, you will ensure that the woman is kept up to date with all training opportunities, consultations, recruitment adverts etc while on maternity leave, won't you? Also, if redundancy becomes a possibility, she must be offered any suitable alternative employment as a priority and without having to apply for it.]
    Sundaytrekker likes this.
  16. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

  17. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Thanks everyone for your comments- I met with the CoG and I will be seeking further legal advice.
    I’m a new HT so wanted some advice on this situation and if anyone has encountered it before.

    The CoG stated that they are ‘happy’ to continue with the offer of employment, but as the colleague will not have served 26 weeks by the time she goes on maternity, she won’t be eligible for the maternity pay.
    We plan to recruit a temporary teacher to start after Easter, spend a couple of weeks with that teacher (getting to know classes etc) and then take over full time when they go on maternity.
    The maternity cover post will initially last a year and then review it in spring 2019.

    As I said, I’m going to continue to seek legal advice before proceeeding.
    GLsghost likes this.
  18. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Your CoG doesn't have any choice but to continue with the offer of employment as made! ;)

    Bear in mind the woman is perfectly entitled to change her mind about the date of commencement of her maternity leave (notice must be given as indicted by @nomad earlier) and you cannot rely on the date she initially suggested to you. Some are content to work later; others find late pregnancy too challenging and want to start earlier. If she happens to be absent on pregnancy-related sickness 4 weeks before her due date, her maternity leave will commence automatically from that point.

    The woman will not have sufficient continuous employment for SMP and may not be eligible for any contractual maternity pay. She will be entitled to Maternity Allowance however, which pays the same as SMP (except for the first six weeks when SMP is more).
    AckyWacky and nomad like this.
  19. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    Ah, jago123,if I remember correctly you got lucky recently when you received very early warning of an Ofsted visit. You can't always be so lucky and maybe this the the yin to that yang.
  20. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Well, technically, I wasn’t really that lucky as it was a full inspection and It has been known to have a couple of days notice before.
    I got the notice on the Thursday, the school was closed on the Friday due to the funeral of a colleague and then Monday and Tuesday the school was closed again due to severe snow.
    The school was inspected on Wednesday by OFSTED- meaning that due to different circumstances the school was closed for 5 days.
    Staff were given the option to come in to catch up on work and ‘prepare’ on the Saturday, Monday and Tuesday IF ONLY it was safe for them to get to the site.
    About 80% of the staff came in at least once over the 3 days.
    I have a number of staff who live quite far from the school making their journey ‘unsafe’ in conditions like that.
    It’s the case of the waiting game now, we will get the report in January.

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