I was working on a casual basis when I fell pregnant – I didn’t have a contract or set hours. After a month of working there though I came to a verbal agreement with my line manager that I’d do a minimum number of hours each week, and I did this without fail for nearly 2 years. My line manager had a contract to work 6 days a week but wanted to work less, so he reduced his hours to 4 days, I did the other 2. I always did 2 days, plus overtime when I could.
The day I told them I was pregnant they did a risk assessment, and decided that I was unsafe to have in the building! I was the first pregnant woman to work in this place and they basically didn’t know what to do with me.
At 6 months pregnant I was told that I was no longer needed. My line manager was made to up his hours back to 6 days a week ( something he also didn’t want as this impacted on his childcare), without putting it into exact words, I lost my job. I was then told that, as I was a casual employee, they had the right to just not employ me whenever they wanted and this had nothing to do with my pregnancy, I was also told that I wasn’t entitled to any maternity pay because I wasn’t employed on a proper contract. I believed this, and took myself to the social security office to sign on for state maternity pay only to be informed that 2 years of continuous employment, regardless of the lack of paper contract, constituted a job that meant the place I had been working owed me mat pay. There followed a battle of phone calls and letters between myself/ work and HRMC, all thankfully smoothed over by my union rep, without him, I’d have had much more stress. In the end however my baby was 3 months old before I received any pay- my work paid up grudgingly. I had been left 9 months with no income. This caused a huge amount of stress and depression at a time when I really didn’t need it.
When my baby was 5 months my line manager handed in his notice – to work the 4 days he wanted elsewhere. The job was advertised as a single full time position. Before the advert went out, I asked about coming back in my part time role that I’d done before and could the job be advertised as a 4 day post. I was just told that they assumed I wouldn’t want to work and so they didn’t feel the need to keep my job open. The decision had been made that it should be one role, not a job share. As far as they were concerned, I was no longer an employee and as soon as my maternity pay finished they wouldn’t be hearing from me again. It was like I’d hit a brick wall. I wasn’t even allowed to see the department manager. I didn’t go back.
On my next job application I found myself lying about the reason for leaving, saying that it was my choice, so as to not jeopardise my chances for a good reference. I found this galling to say the least.
My next job wasn’t much better. Again I was the only woman in the team. The other men all worked overtime and I was expected to do the same, and treated as though I was letting the side down if I didn’t do it. I had no choice to work more than I wanted or, needed to because otherwise my day was a nightmare.
When I asked for a day off to attend a dr appointment so my baby could have her vaccinations I was told no because I had asked for a Thursday off which was the busiest day of the week. I said that my surgery only offered the vaccination clinic on a Thursday and my boss told me to register with a new GP that did them on a different day.
The general lack of support I got being a working mother was so depressing. I never asked for special treatment, just for the things I was entitled to – not working over time for example. I eventually gave up work, it made us financially poor, but emotionally it was the best thing I ever did.