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Maternity leave and Appraisals

Maternity leave and Appraisals

Hi, my friend works for a small company with no HR department. She returned to work at the end of December 2007 after almost a year's maternity leave, and her contract with her employer has always been part time. She went on maternity leave at the end of December 2006, and her last appraisal and salary review was on 1st October 2006. Her other colleagues have had salary increases and performance appraisals in October 2007, whilst she was still on maternity leave. She was not advised of this.

Her manager, who is very difficult and has previously tried to give less of a salary increase than other staff members on the same level, advised that her appraisal would only be able to cover "less than two months" of her work, and my friend said that she should be entitled to an appraisal regardless of this. She advised she would speak to her manager, and let her know.

Is she entitled to an appraisal, or should she wait a few months? Is she also entitled to any salary increase if non-performance related? I thought she would be, yet her manager may well argue that the salary increase is not due to inflation, but performance related.

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks


Kaz Franks


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By Anonymous
19th Feb 2008 16:22

Hi Kaz

Asking for a payrise to be backdated can be a tricky one. There is no reason why she can not ask.

I would suggest that she think about all the reasons the company would give for not doing so and plan her answers before the meeting. If you know someone that is a manager or owns a business, bouncing this off them may help you to prepare and to quiz then on what would pursuade them to give someone a payrise backdated.

I suspect that providing documented or visable evidence of meeting or over achieving in terms of deliverables or targets is certainly one way to support your aurgument.

Negotiating pay is something that research has shown that women are less effective in than men. One of the reasons given is that women would not feel the need to 'blow their own trumpet' and would normally expect that their manager or clooleagues know how good, effective, efficient or professional they are. While men are more likely to make sure the right people know what they have achieved and that they are given equatable rewards.

Hence, my advice is to review what your friend has achieved over the period concentrating on those things that have had a positive effect on the business.

Hope this helps!

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By kaziah
28th Jan 2008 13:08

Hi Linda,

Thanks very much for the quick and detailed response. I will pass this article on to my friend. She may well ask for an appraisal in March, but also request for any non-performance related salary increase, which have been given to other staff members. Can this be backdated to December 2007?


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By Anonymous
23rd Jan 2008 13:17

Hi Kaz


Best practice would indicate that everyone (including those returning from maternity leave) should have at a minimum an appraisal every 12 months. In relation to maternity leave, I would expect a manager to have regular discussions with someone returning from maternity leave and to agree when the best time would be to have a formal appraisal. There are no hard and fast rules for this situation.


It appears that your friend is planning to use the appraisal as a vehicle for asking for her payrise. Using the appraisal for negotiating a payrise in my opinion is not the best approach although it is commonly used this way. However, if in this company the appraisal is 'graded' or 'marked' and based on this payrises are awarded it may be the only way.

I suspect that payrises will not be given in a systematic process driven way as this sounds like a small business.

If your friend knows that everyone recieved the same annual increase(in % terms) then it would be hard for her employer to argue that the increases were merit based on individual performance and not a purely inflation based or an aurbitrary % based on what they thought they could afford given evenly to everyone.

Where an increase is given based purely on performance, then it would be difficult for your friend to be given an increase as she was not there for the majority of the past year.

I have seen this approached where it is recognised that someone normally recieved an average score and they are given the same increase as would be given to those with average performance. This is even a stronger approach if the performance of your friend is taken over a number of years and a fair award is given based on the average over the timescale.

If informal discussions fail to bring about a mutually satisfactory outcome, your friend may wish to raise a grievance, however it is important that she thinks about what she wants to achieve and what the best approach would be in her organisation for achieving it - formal routes do not always get you the outcome you want.

Rightly or wrongly, employers are still able to call the shots much of the time and this is one area where although legislation has tried to support maternity leave and women returning to work - in practice this is not always easy!

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