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Overlooked for development

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Jo2004, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. Jo2004

    Jo2004 New commenter

    Hi everyone,
    This is a bit of a long story but I will try to be concise.

    I am a member of an slt with the HT, DHT and an Assistant Head. I am a class teacher, KS 2 Leader, SENCO, subject co-coordinator and NQT mentor so consider myself to play a significant role in the school.

    Our DHT is leaving at half term and I was told about this and the plans made just before Xmas. I was told that a permanent DHT would not be sought at this time as we are also having a new HT this year too so he will make the decisions.

    In the meantime, I was told "we must all pull together" the assistant head would do more but other responsibilities would be given to another member of staff as part of his development. I will not be given any of this for my development because I "am pregnant and will be going on maternity leave".

    I expressed my concern about this and was just told that I could obviously apply for any future positions the new head decides on.

    I then found out that what is actually happening is that two new roles have been created: an . Acting DHT and Acting assistant head, both of which I have been overlooked for. I was not even told about this directly from the head, which I do find disrespectful as a member of the slt.

    The AHT post has been internally advertised and staff are welcome to apply, however the entire staff know that it has already been promised to the other teacher. I feel completely overlooked and discriminated against because, I feel, I am pregnant.

    As there is more than one person capable of fulfilling the Acting DHT role (Current . AHT and myself ) can I insist on that post being opened up so I can apply?

    If not, I will apply for the AHT post, but know that this has already been promised, so how can I ensure it is a fair process?

    Is the head able to overlook me because it is known in advance I will be going on maternity leave, even though I will be at school when the posts begin?

    I have really struggled to receive any CPD in the last few years, so really feel that any development opportunities are vital for me.

    I don't want to cause trouble but really believe that I would be the right person to step up (please don't think I am being arrogant) as I have a better understanding off the school as a whole and have more impact than the current AHT And my pregnancy I'd being used against me.

    Thanks in advance for ant advice.
  2. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I'll keep it brief: the answer is emphatically No.

    On the basis of what you say, it sounds as if you are being subjected to less-favourable treatment on ground of your pregnancy. That is unlawful because pregnancy / maternity is a protected characteristic under Equality Act 2010.

    Read more here.

    You need to talk to your union. Unfortunately pregnancy discrimination is all too common.
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Congratulations on that baby!

    As a Primary teacher with boisterous pupils in the playground, etc., it is even more important than normal that a Risk Assessment be done on your situation. You wouldn't wish to be knocked down on duty by some year 6 child. Has it happened?

    And as for what you tell us: Oh dear!

    And I can understand that you are saying

    But actually this is illegal discrimination, and you need your regional office of the union to advise you.

    Plus let's have some comments and information from @GLsghost

    Best wishes for 2016 and that little bundle of joy!

  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter



    @GLsghost typed faster than I did!

  5. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I keep saying this - they're appointing people to headships who don't appear to know their job, or the law.
    Noja likes this.
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

  7. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    He is not allowed to 'overlook' you for development/ promotion just because you are pregnant.
    The question you've got to ask yourself though is: 'Do I want to progress to a DHT at the current time when I am going off on maternity leave in a few months time'. If it was me, I would say no, I would wait at least a year to 2 years. Being a parent is a full time job itself yet alone being a Deputy Headteacher.
    Noja and FrankWolley like this.
  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    It may not be legal, but if these are clear temporary posts and someone won't be there for the duration, it is understandable that the outgoing head will want stability.

    You can fight, and you union will definitely support you, but even if SLT back down and give the appearance of a fair application process, whatever the outcome you will always wonder if it was to do with your pregnancy.

    You can't insist a post be opened up so you can apply.
  9. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I don't know how I feel about this one. I don't want this to sound like I advocate discrimination, because I really don't. I have pondered whether or not to post this as well, particularly in light of some far more knowledgeable contributors opinions...

    For me this bit makes sense. I assume you are suggesting that s/he is leaving at February.

    Are you being overlooked for this temporary position just because you are pregnant though, or is it simply a reality that you wont be there to complete the full term of the job? I assume that you must have been 12 weeks before you told them, may be wrong of course. That would mean that If you were twelve weeks at the end of term, you would be leaving around May anyway. For me there has to be an element of common sense for all parties. You are not able to carry out the duties for the duration, if, as I assume, it is only up to the end of the year and the long term position is up to the new HT?

    In the long term, this seems to suggest that you are on an even playing field?
  10. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    I would tend to agree with the common sense approach above. However, you do seem adamant that you're being overlooked because you're pregnant; is there not a possibility that the head believes there is someone more suitable and it has nothing to do with your pregnancy?

    The simple truth is that they don't need to advertise any position and the head is free to appoint whomever they feel is best suited.
  11. mrkeys

    mrkeys Occasional commenter

    I do think the introduction of Teach1st has not helped with the 'development' of younger SLT. The notion of building up experience over several years and several schools seems now to be rare.
    The idea that a new teacher should expect to be on SLT within 5 years is simply ridiculous, because that is exactly how Teach1st recruit.
  12. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    ...unless the reason a person is not appointed is because they have a protected characteristic.

    In this case, the OP has told us that she was told she would not be considered because "[she] is pregnant and will be going on maternity leave". That is direct discrimination under s13 EqA 2010.

    Discussion of this dilemma has bifurcated and is now musing on two different questions: the first is the original "Is the HT allowed to bypass the OP for the stated reasson which is that she is pregnat and going on maternity leave?"; the second concerns the practicalities for the employer of appointing a person in that position. Both are valid questions and useful discussions but should not be confused.

    I work in employment law and am concerned here that the law preventing discrimination on ground of pregnancy appears to have been broken by the OP's employer.

    Whether the raft of employment law that has devolved via the EU is always in the interest of workers, employers and the national economy is an entirely different chestnut! In the case of discrimination law, I happen to think it is a positive development, but don't get me started on the impact of other introductions on (especially small) businesses!
  13. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    Let's clarify this though. The OP wasn't told she was being overlooked for promotion because she was pregnant. She was told that, when dishing out the DHT's current responsibilities to other members of the SMT, she wouldn't be given any extra work because she was going on maternity leave and therefore, I assume, she wouldn't be there to actually do this.

    She sees this as a lack of development but looking from the schools point of view would they believe they are being supportive? If the OP was of a different mindset this post could very well read "The school have insisted that I take on extra responsibility when the existing DHT leaves at half term for no extra money and while I am already pregnant. I believe this will make my workload unbearable and cause a lot of stress at an already stressful time." It seems the employer might be in a lose lose situation.

    I understand your point about pregnancy discrimination but why would they give responsibilities to someone who would not be there to fulfil them?

    I completely agree with you there!
    wanet and DYNAMO67 like this.
  14. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    The OP claims that she was overlooked for what she has identified as a development opportunity because she is pregnant and was going on maternity leave. As far as she is concerned, she has been subjected to less-favourable treatment on ground of a protected characteristic and such an act is unlawful.

    Whether or not she would succeed in making such a complkaint would depend entirely on the facts. It is not for me to say whether or not it would succeed - I am not the judge hearing the claim!

    Remember in a pregnancy discrimination claim, there is no need for a comparator. If the treatment is less-favourable on ground of pregnancy, it succeeds. There is also no defence that less-favourable treatment (if the facts demonstrate that it occured) can be objectively justifiable, in a preg / mat discrimination case. So putting it simply, there would be no defence to argue that she was overlooked, but it was justifiable because she would only have been able to do the job for X weeks before going on maternity leave, or she was overlooked because "we were thinking of you and that you are likely to be tired by then".

    Minefield, yes and I do have some sympathy for employers attempting to negotiate a route through it, but the law is the law.
  15. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    It is possible that the school thought it was doing the right thing by not putting the pressure of new repsonsibilites on somebody who is pregnant. If you onjected, then I would have thought that they could have found something for you to do.

    In terms of the new job, it would seem reasonable for the acting DHT job to go to the current AHT - I would guess that the majority of DHT jobs go to AHTs, as promotions are often one stage at a time.

    I can't see that you have been overlooked for the acting AHT job if it is being advertised internally. You might have expected special treatment as a member of SLT (being told ahead of others) but there is no law that says that this should happen. Who has said that the role has been promised to somebody? If there is evidence for this, rather than just 'the entire staff knows', and there is evidence that you are at least as well qualified and being discriminated against because you are pregnant, then you would have a clear legal case. If not, it might be argued that the new roles are taking on the work that was going to be given to some people unpaid, so that the initial discrimination no longer applies. Whether this would stand up I have no idea - I leave this to the experts.
  16. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    In pregnancy discrimination, the legislation does not provide for a defence of an objectively justifiable reason. Less favourable treatment is less favourable treatment.

    I'm certainly no expert but, as I understand the legislation, no amount of attempt to justify an act that treats a pregnant woman less-favourably than a non-pregnant colleague will work as a defence. Irrespective of what may happen about furture appointments, if the OP has been denied a development opportunity just because she is pregnant, it is an unlawful act of discrimination.
  17. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    My Layman's response to this, is that it simply common sense that the OP hasn't been offered a temporary position due to the fact that she is unlikely to be around to carry out the job.... I really do think it is bonkers. Sorry.

    @GLsghost a scenario just to clarify this. As a man, If I was in the exact same position of the OP, but i was going off to have a operation where I would be off for, say, six months, would the law call my treatment discriminatory?

    I have been on the receiving end of discrimination law on pregnancy in a redundancy process, where seemingly pregnant women are untouchable (in my mind discrimination towards everyone else) to me where the line is drawn legally needs looking at... Sorry.
  18. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    What I was wondering is whether the new roles took the place of the unpaid extra work so that, in practice, the discrimination did not occur. Also, I wonder what the redress would be - no money was involved so the only damage was the loss of a chance to do some extra unpaid work - a development opportunity certainly, but how does it get quantified if it comes to damages? Of course, if the OP can demonstrate that she has been unfairly treated in terms of the new paid roles, that would be a different kettle of fish!

    Yes, I appreciate your point about the possible reason for not giving the OP extra work. If that was the concern, they should have had a quiet word before making any firm decisions to find out if the extra work was wanted or not.
  19. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Well, the situation cannot be exactly the same, since we have been talking about pregnancy / maternity discrimination!

    For your scenario to even begin to get a sniff of potential action in discrimination, the condition for which you would be having your surgery would need to amount to a disability (or possibly gender-reassignment surgery).

    Even then the duties of employers towards workers with those protected characteristics differ from their duties towards pregnant workers.

    In a redundancy situation, pregnant women or those on maternity leave must be prioritised for an offer of any suitable alternative employment. This also applies to partners taking shared parental leave, btw. The first question I now ask clients seeking advice about potential redundancy is: "Your partner isn't pregnant by any chance?" If the answer is yes, they are advised to slap in notice of the intention to take shared parental leave as they then have to be prioritised for any suitable alternative employment, without having to apply for it and even if another person is a better candidate.

    I'm not necessarily saying I agree with this - it's just the law as it currently is!
  20. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    But if the unpaid extra work can be argued to be a development opportunity, which was denied to the OP because she is pregnant, then she can argue a detriment from less-favourable treatment.

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