I went on maternity leave quite shaken and already concerned about going back

I’ve worked for my employer for 7 years. I’ve had top performance ratings, been promoted and was selected for secondment to the U.S. I have never had any performance issues or been on a performance plan.

My current manager took over the week I returned to work after my Dad died. From the outset I felt she saw me as emotional and “weak”. In our first meeting she asked me if I would like to move into a different role. I’d only been in that position for 4 months at the time, so I said no. Clearly a big mistake.

The next 10 months were not great in terms of our working relationship, but I felt we got on well enough to be productive. When I told her I was pregnant she said that there is more chance of having a baby with Down’s at my age. I really didn’t think that was appropriate or any of her business. The day before I went on maternity leave she gave me the worst performance review of my career and told me I was in the wrong job and I had a reputation across senior management as being “difficult”. I had never heard this before. I was totally devastated, I’d loved my job and employer. I went on maternity leave quite shaken and already concerned about going back. Without the opportunity to challenge my rating in the usual way, I wrote a letter to her and HR, in the first couple of weeks of mat leave. Then I put it out of my mind and concentrated on my gorgeous baby boy.

My mat leave was due to end in February of this year, but I had quite a lot of annual leave to take, so I asked HR if I could use that and return at the beginning of April. I was contacted by a colleague who wanted to discuss my return date. On this call he told me that the team had grown considerably since I went off and they had decided my role was now a Senior Manager position, as I was a manager there was no role for me to go back to. I was totally stunned.

I was told I would be contacted by the recruitment team. I contacted them 2 weeks later. They discussed a role which involved being away for 3 days a week, every week, which was really not what I wanted having just had a baby and having not been in a role that required that level of travel before.

I heard very little from anyone, except in March, a role, at my level, was advertised for my team. I applied and had a screening call with recruitment who told me that the colleague who spoke to me in January was now my line manager and line manager for this vacancy. 2 weeks later they contacted me to say the role had been reviewed and downgraded 2 levels, would I still be interested? This would mean me reporting into people I had managed before I left, so I thought I would prefer to take a step back externally, rather than with my current employer.

A week before my return to work date I emailed my (now) line manager and HR to confirm the date of my return. I didn’t hear anything further so I turned up to work last Monday. I was there for an hour and hadn’t heard from my manager (he is based in a different city), I called and left a message. A short time later he called me back, totally incredulous and clearly annoyed asking why had I turned up and that he had told me in January that there was no role for me. I had to pick up my coat and bag and walk out past colleagues and friends I had just said hello to 90 minutes before. I was totally humiliated.

I had the call for my “at risk” meeting this morning. They were very careful to say it’s not automatic that I will be made redundant and that recruitment are doing everything they can to find me something. I really have no faith in this and have had very little contact from recruitment since the end of February.

The last 3 months of my leave has been spent worrying, trying to re-do my CV and looking for other jobs. I really believe there has been an agenda to get rid of me and they used my maternity leave to do this.

If any positive can come from this, that we have a voice and the Government take this issue more seriously, then at least the past 7 years of my career will not have been a waste of time.


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