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Ask Ash

14 July 14

Advice column: my maternity leave locum has been given a full-time job – and it appears to be mine

Dear Ash,

I have recently returned to my job following a year on maternity leave; however, I don’t feel like I ‘m being made to feel very welcome. The locum solicitor, who was covering for me whilst I was on maternity leave, has now been offered a permanent role at our firm and I feel as if he is still essentially in my post! I have to share clients with him and he seems to be favoured because he is able to work long hours whereas I have to leave sharp everyday in order to pick up my child from nursery.

Although my boss seems fine, on the surface, about my working arrangements, he now has a habit of remembering that he wants to speak to me just before I am due to leave the office; and if I remind him that I need to leave for the nursery, he tells me not to worry and confirms that he will speak to the former locum solicitor instead! I am more than happy to work from home later on in the evening but my boss seems to think that this is too much hassle and because the former locum is available in the office he seems to get all the good quality work and clients. I am not sure how to broach the subject with my boss without coming across as insecure!

Ash replies:

It is a pity that some women who return to work after having a child are made to feel under immense pressure to re affirm their position and worth to their employers. It is difficult enough trying to adjust to the pressures of parenthood without having to cope with the added politics of the workplace. You quite rightly want to focus on your career now that you have returned to work but this should not necessarily interfere with your time with your child.

I would therefore suggest that you devise an outline work plan that allows you to effectively balance childcare commitments but also illustrates your commitment to your job. For example if you are, as you say, willing to work from home in the evenings , then perhaps consider setting out the days you would be able to do this in the form of the outline plan. You should then use the plan as a basis for discussion with your boss.

Explain to him that you are committed to your career and that you want to ensure a good stream of quality work is still allocated to you. You could also set up a regular catch up session with your boss every afternoon and explain that you would also be able to also catch up on his emails in the evenings, on the days highlighted in your plan. This should allow your boss to catch up with you on urgent work matters and ensure that you are still allocated a sufficient level of good quality work.

Remember that your colleagues will also be attempting to adjust now that you have returned to work and it may therefore just take a little time for them to realise that being a mother does not detract from the fact that you are still the same competent lawyer you were before the baby!

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor: peter@connectcommunications.co.uk, or mail to Studio 2001, Mile End, Paisley PA1 1JS. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.
  • Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Registrar’s Department. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, Manager in the Registrar’s Department on 0131 476 8105/8200, or KatieWood@lawscot.org.uk

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