Thursday, February 3, 2011

Handling employers that have disregarded your career

Yesterday, I spoke with a a highly qualified and experienced woman who is being treated badly by her well known employer. Prior to going on parental leave, she negotiated (in writing) a 4 day week. On her return, she was told that the person filling in for her role had been doing a great job and she was no longer required to work in that position. They offered her a more junior role (a role that had orginally reported to her) but at the same salary level she was currently on.

Very cunning indeed. They know they are doing the wrong thing but have attempted to smooth it over by offering the same salary for a more junior role.

This example highlights a few things about this employer:
- They are not looking after the career development of employees;
- They are potentially in breach of the anti-discrimination act - now this woman is a mother, her career is no longer important;
- They obviously don't care about loyalty when it comes to their employees;
- They are not aware of a well publicised skills shortage in Australia.

The woman was very angry and disappointed with her employer. I recommended that she pursue one of two paths;
- Firstly, take the more junior role and settle back into the workplace. Use them while she prepares to springboard herself into a better role.
- Find a better role now with a better employer.

I also suggested that when she finally leaves this employer, she should outline potential breaches of employment and discrimination law in the resignation letter (start with as well as a breach of trust. This letter should then be given to her manager, and her manager's manager. It is then a formal document on record.

1 comment:

Amber said...

This is exactly what had happened to me! In my case, I had accepted a period of paid maternity leave from the company --- which I had to work for 5 years to accrue and when I returned from maternity leave (ML) I had to work for a further 12 months for the company to have the "debt forgiven" (no such thing as a free lunch!). So a few weeks into my return to work from ML when I began to experience the subtle demotions, the blatant exclusion from meetings, the references to me as a "half-lawyer", etc., I realised that I was now stuck in a dreadful, unhappy place at a workplace that I had previously thought was going to be my career's future.

It was a horrible quandary for me. After a 12 months' absence from the workforce and with a mortgage, my husband and I could not afford to repay the maternity leave payment that had been made to me, so I resolved to stick through the remaining 11 months and, in the meantime, update my CV, attend some industry functions outside of work to start networking, and at about the 10 month mark, I started applying to other companies.

Surprisingly, it did not take long to land a new job with flexible work arrangements (3 days per week) with better benefits all around. The day I handed in my resignation was a triumphant day for me after all the discrimination I'd been subjected to. 18 months into the new job, I could not be happier!

Once your employer has broken that duty of mutual trust and confidence by behaving in a discriminatory manner, the relationship is usually irreparable. The way discrimination law stands, it is going to be a very costly, drawn-out period of litigation for the wronged party and it is just not worth it. As devastating as it may seem, the best thing for you and your career's survival is to move on. There are many companies out there who value experienced female employees and know their value enough to take them on in a part-time role after motherhood. I've heard it said that bosses prefer working mums because they know how to get things done far more efficiently as they can't afford to fluff around!