EIS-FELA Raise concerns over the potential discriminatory nature of redundancies at City of Glasgow College

Created on: 11 Oct 2023 | Last modified: 25 Oct 2023

EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) representatives have raised concerns over what is believed to be the discriminatory nature of redundancies taking place at City of Glasgow College.

Redundancies are decided using a scoring-criteria based on gathering evidence such as continuing professional development, industry links and other work which highlights a lecturer goes ‘above and beyond’. However, staff who have been absent due to maternity leave are not having this considered when the management of the college are looking at the past three years of evidence.

This has been reported by the EIS-FELA Branch as a potential breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Nicola Smith-Mann has worked with City of Glasgow College as a lecturer for 17 years and believes that she has been treated in a discriminatory way. She says, “I was on maternity leave from May 2019 and returned for the new academic year in August 2020. As this was during the peak of Covid, I worked from home during this time and for the following year with the consent of my line manager.”

“Later that academic year, I discovered I was pregnant with triplets. At the time, studies showed a connection with catching Covid and premature labour. As a result, it was agreed with my curriculum head that I would continue to take classes via Zoom.

"As this was a multiple birth pregnancy there were many risks and dangers, so I had to be very careful I wasn’t too stressed and didn’t overload myself. I took my maternity leave at the beginning of April 2022 and had the triplets later that month. It was agreed that I would return at the beginning of the next academic year.”

“In April, I was surprised when HR informed me that I was due holiday pay. I did a bit of research and discovered that if they gave me holiday payments, then technically it would mean I had returned from maternity leave early.  I contacted HR to say I did not want the holiday pay until after I had returned, however this was still put into my bank account.”

Ms Smith-Mann continued, “My curriculum heads got in contact with me to tell me I was in the position of having to fight for my job. This involved over 20 hours of work whilst I was on maternity leave, which was extremely difficult while trying to care for my three young children and my four-year-old. I had to arrange extra childcare to allow me to do this.” 

“I have only ever been given positive feedback from students, my peers and curriculum heads. Nothing ever indicated to me that my job was at risk. I believe this is blatant discrimination since I was unable to demonstrate ‘going above and beyond’ for the past three years due to the pandemic, my pregnancy and maternity leave.

"Others who were not pregnant or on maternity leave may be better able to evidence this, not that I think they should have to, but it is discrimination if I am treated detrimentally due to pregnancy and maternity leave.”

“I love being a Sports Lecturer,” Ms Smith-Mann added, “and giving the students a platform to not only develop as individuals but also develop social skills, confidence and gain the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle. Being a former FE student myself, I feel I can help inspire students to challenge themselves during their education pathway.”

The EIS-FELA Branch at City of Glasgow College continues to challenge Nicola Smith Mann’s redundancy on the grounds of discrimination, and other similar cases, as it carries out industrial action in defence of jobs and education provision at the college.

EIS-FELA members are re-balloting for a further mandate for industrial action in pursuit of a satisfactory resolution to the dispute over redundancies, cuts to courses and jobs, and terms and conditions. The ballot to extend industrial action closes on 23rd October.

A video of Nicola Smith-Mann explaining her redundancy experience is available here.