After Maternity Leave: Should I Travel Further to Work?
I am on maternity leave currently due to return in September 09. However, recently the company that I am employed by has lost the current contract to another service provider, apparently we will all be T.U.P.Ed over on August 1st to the new company. However, the new office location is about 15 miles from the one I work at presently.
My current employers policy on maternity leave is that I have to return to work for a minimum of 6 months or I have to pay back the maternity pay received. I was wondering if this will still stand with the new company? Travelling 15 miles to work part time hours will not be worthwhile for me.
When your current employer is taken over by a new company then your contract is protected by Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (known as 'TUPE'). This means that your terms of employment still apply and your role should continue as it was. This is in place to protect your rights, although in your case could end up working against you as you do not wish to continue working for the company in the new location.
By moving your role to a new location the company are effectively changing your conditions of contract. They cannot do this without your consent unless there has been a collective agreement by a union or within your company. If this has happened, then the new conditions apply to you even if you were not present or part of the union.
Being away on maternity leave obviously makes the situation even more tricky. If an agreement has been reached about the new contract terms then the same conditions will apply about you having to return your maternity pay if you leave. You would not have to return any statutory maternity pay, but you would need to pay back anything that your employer has given you on top of this.
As the mother of a young child you have the opportunity to ask your employer about flexible working hours. They do not have to agree, but they are required to reasonably consider your request and give a good reason why not if they refuse. This is probably the best course of action for you to take as you may be able to come to an agreement with your new employer about working from home, depending on the nature of your job.
If you believe that the terms of your contract have indeed been breached by the move of location, and were not reached through collective agreement, then you have every right to appeal. The first step is still to talk to you new employer about your situation but beyond this you could contact your trade union representative or a solicitor about taking your case further.