Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being marginalized after returning from maternity leave.
I have a colleague, who was hired as my assistant, when I TUPE’d across to my new company. I co-signed their contract on behalf of the company before going on maternity leave under the instructions of my manager, who also told me this colleague would be the person he wanted to cover during my maternity. I trained and got all the starter paper work sorted for this individual before I left for my leave, at which point the relationship between us was very good.
I returned to work after 9 months and found at first all was good and well; however attitudes changed after a few weeks when I asked about plans for a handover from my cover. My new manager and my now devious colleague made it clear to me that there would be no handover and began treating me very badly with plenty of cold shoulder. It became very clear in no time that I was now in a job shared with my assistant who proceeded to tell me we were the same as her contract was same as mine.
When I told my manager and HR through a grievance that things were not right, the personnel file I had created for them was now locked away in the individual’s possession , and I, who signed all the content, am not allowed to see it. I raised my concerns with HR in my grievance that I did not sign a contract that my assistant was to be same as mine. They had agreed to this upon as they were hired this person as my assistant and agreed to that when the offer letter was sent. I have now been informed that the individual has sent a copy of the contract to HR which stated different tittle to which I signed and apparently my signature is on the document.
My new manager has formed a good relationship with this individual and makes it clear that he would like her instead of me, he treats her better, gives her more training, more of the workload, a better score for our yearly appraisals and talks to her freely whenever I am not in the office. The situation is horrible as there are just the 3 of us, and I am so mortified that this cruel person who pretended to be a friend has done all she can to take my job while I was on maternity.Sorry this is very long but I need advice. It appears that my manager is encouraging her to act like my boss and will soon promote her so she can be paid more too. Thank you
Signed, Being Marginalized
Dear Being Marginalized:
I’ve slightly reworded your story to better understand it. If I have erred, I apologize. It appears you have two problems: one, reasserting your status after maternity leave and two, possible falsification of a contract. Our site responds to communication, not legal issues; therefore, my thoughts are not to be construed as legal advice.
1. You initiated grievance procedures with Human Resources. That is your best avenue for resolving your status. If you have not put this in writing, succinctly submit the history of your employment; job description and oral understanding under which you were tupe’d and what has transpired since your return. Request a formal investigation and ask to be kept abreast of it. One aspect of this, about which you express/allege fraud, should be decided and you should be informed. Documents you have signed should be open to you for inspection and you should not have to get legal help to have that done.
2. Meanwhile, be upfront with your current boss about your displeasure of treatment since return from maternity leave. Assert how you want to be treated while this is under investigation. Pledge your cooperation and commitment to make your three-person work group to be efficient and effective and request that you meet daily or weekly to clarify assignments and review of their completion.
3. Realize that after an extended absence from one’s job, change should be expected. Also, realize that in a three-person situation, often two can side against one. You want to feel included as before, but you don’t. You want the same power as before but you don’t have it. You want to be liked as well as before but you now feel less liked. The situation has changed and so have you. You have the responsibility of a new child. You shouldn’t have additional hassles to fight. But you have. So I trust that you can make your case clearly and forcefully, yet with poise and a realization that things are not always the same.
Consider asking your boss to help with your career; seek his advice and guidance within your work organization. Hopefully you can think beyond this current frustration to where you might be wanted and want to be. See the big picture; what is best for the internal and external customers. Hopefully you will be seen as a cheerleader and champion of teamwork because of your good sense, goodwill and good character. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my parting thought. By that I mean that process matters. During that in whatever you do, remember that each of you wants to be important and none of you wants to be a loser. Status is important to each of you as individuals, but surely as adults working together you can find a way to a solution,one that is fair and reasonable so that the jobs get done within a workplace friendly climate.