This is a subject close to my heart, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant which was quite a turmoil in itself (another story entirely) and at the 12 week mark I told my employers. I was aware there were potential redundancies afoot as the company was about to be sold however I did not think (and neither did my boss) I would be amongst them. However a week later, at the beginning of December, I found out I was. Then the company sold just before Christmas. So here came the confusion; I worked for a business in Germany which was part of a global media company but was based in the UK. I started in a self-employed capacity but wanted to buy a property so arranged to go on the payroll and had been for 15 months when it happened. There wasn’t a UK entity of the German company so a sister (and extremely well known) company in London payrolled me – all arranged via the US office. They really didn’t have anything to do with my day to day work at all, they simply provided payroll, pension etc and took on the role of the redundancy process. The first meeting they tried to deny I was eligible for maternity pay however my notice period would go into the point where maternity pay would kick in. I also wanted my bonus, holiday and other benefits paid. I was always very clear if they wanted me to go, that was fine, but they had to pay. At this point my range for settling would have been £25-40K. I got myself a kick ass lawyer, only about 26 and a small slip of a thing but she was completely unafraid at taking on not only the very powerful global media business, but also the new owners. She managed to make them keep paying me for another 3 months on full pay while they all started arguing the liability amongst themselves. At one point the HR team from the company I worked for in Germany wrote to me complaining about this. You can imagine my response! I told them to never contact me again and to only deal with my lawyer. My lawyer was amazingly bullish and wanted us to go for £120K payment which was our starting point. We tried to negotiate with them several times, but they ended up stopping my pay in the March, without paying me any maternity or other money owed to me. Then it went quiet for around a month, so we applied to take them to the employment tribunal. The date came through for the 4th of June which was ironically my due date. I said if they didn’t settle before, I would see them in Court and in no unclear terms I would waddle my way in there even if I was in labour. Two weeks before my due date they settled for £80k plus £6k legal fees, more than twice the top level I would have settled at originally. Was it worth it? It didn’t feel like it at the time, the stress was pretty awful, combined with my family situation and the worse thing was how it tainted my news when telling people I was expecting. However with hindsight it did allow me to have 2 years off with my daughter and pay off a chunk of my mortgage. I’d also like to say how this amazing law firm only charged me £250 at the very beginning of the process, I think really to show I was ready to take action more than anything. It was an amazing gesture and very much appreciated. I wrote to the Partner saying how happy I was with my Lawyer who wrote a lovely email back to say how he’d been considering the annual promotions and my email had confirmed her promotion. So I would recommend getting yourself a good lawyer and don’t back down if you have the stamina for it, these f**kers need to be taught a lesson!
I said if they didn’t settle before, I would see them in Court and in no unclear terms I would waddle my way in there even if I was in labour