This happened to me seven years ago…but I am still very not over it.
I worked for a charity arts organisation. When I told them I was pregnant they were really supportive – told me to rest, I’d been working too hard for too long and not to over do it. I was very good friends with the director, and we’d recently employed another person to manage the growing team.
My first shock to returning to work was when I asked for my 10 contact days, but the organisation said they didn’t have the money, which I know wasn’t true at all. We were a small team, and I was aware of what we had and where the money was going. I had my full maternity leave and on my return I was told I either had to came back full time in to a new job, or take all the small ‘shitty’ bits (we all have them) of projects on a part time basis. I’d hoped to return full time – but gradually and thought this would benefit the organisation too as it would release some money immediately to employ someone else, but when new projects and funding came in I’d be in a position to take on more work.
The second warning light was prior to my maternity leave I could always work wherever and whenever I wanted as long as the work got done – I could be on a project abroad for a week one week, and then the following week I could work from home flexibly. This was the way we all worked. The new part time contract meant I had to be in the office all the time. This also meant I couldn’t work as much as I wanted to as it took me over an hour to get to work.
I was devastated. I’d gone from being quite high up and an integral part of an organisation to being left out of meetings, opinions, not being considered etc, works social events were set up to exclude me.
The organisation had a 3 day festival every year with a large performance at the end. I was told I wasn’t needed at the end of show celebrations because I wasn’t really part of the team/event and could I stay behind and make sure the site was safe.
I contacted Citizens advice and I was told I couldn’t have my cake and eat it – apparently I couldn’t expect the same working condition as before.
I expressed my concerns to the organisation and it was suggested I go freelance, and I could have more flexibility about how I worked and what I did. I said yes thinking it could work out for the best, and in all honesty thought maybe I was being paranoid about it all. They then said they could only do freelance on a project basis and there was only a few months left on this particular project. They never gave me any more work after those couple of months.
I heard that the director and line manager had a party and gave themselves a pay rise after they got rid of me (the lady who took over from me told me).
I was so shocked by what happened to me. More than anything I thought these people were my friends. As a small charity I’d gone way beyond what would have been expected, working extremely long and sacrificing relationships and friendships over the years.
I sometimes wonder if I could do something about it, but then I was told early on in my negotiations with them that they had a solicitor on their board and they’d make sure everything they were doing was legal…I still wonder why they told me that.