Everyone at work seemed pleased when I first shared the news that I was pregnant. However, the company that I worked for at the time, didn’t conduct things the way they should have. Up to 7 months’ pregnant I was made to carry heavy items of post from one floor to the next, until one of my colleagues stepped in and told the manager that I shouldn’t be doing it in my condition. At this time also, I didn’t have a desk at my job, my job was “floating” and there was no spare desks. After getting advice from family, I told my manager that I wasn’t able to stand up for days at a time and they had to move me to another position where I could have a desk and be sitting down. All through my pregnancy, I was made to make up the time taken off to attend ante-natal appointments. I didn’t know otherwise until I again got advice from my family. I was a first time mum, I didn’t know, and wasn’t informed by the company, of these things.
I took 10 months off for maternity leave and they agreed to let me return to work part-time, 3 days a week. From the start it was clear that they didn’t want this to happen. When I returned to work, I wasn’t allowed to do the jobs that I was doing before going on leave, I was known as “the helper”, the spare part. I worked my socks off and worked overtime when needed, to show the bosses that I was committed to my job, even though I was part-time and I was a mother. I had already been demoted when I returned and I stuck with it for another year, until things started to go really wrong.
My son caught chicken pox, after we returned from a holiday. On my first day back to work following the holiday, I had to leave an hour later as I was called back to the childminders. This alone was a week off work, followed by another week as my son had such bad side effects to the pox that he still wasn’t allowed back at his childminders. On my first day back at work following my son’s illness, I was slapped with a written warning for absence. The letter I received stated that any more absences could result in my dismissal and a couple of weeks following this, my son was diagnosed with ear and throat infections and as he had antibiotics, he had to stay away from the childminders for 48 hours.
Upon my return to work following the second period of my son’s illness, I handed my manager an appeal letter for the written warning. I was informed that they had hired someone else to do my job as I was “unreliable” (bear in mind that this was the first time I had taken time off work to look after my son since I returned to work the previous year). I was asked to provide medical records for my son’s illnesses and my manager verbally, and later in writing, said that if I provided these and the dates added up they would withdraw the written warning. I paid and provided these to show that the dates added up. I asked to be reimbursed for the medical records and was just laughed at by my manager.
The last meeting took place with the company director and my manager. In this meeting, the director stated that the written warning would not be withdrawn and when I argued that the correct procedure for warnings was first a verbal then a written, I was told by the director “not to tell him how to run his business”. The director then offered me a pay out to leave the company without notice or to “shut up and get on with my job”. This meeting happened on a Monday morning and he wanted an answer, either way, the following day. I spent a couple of hours in the toilets at work crying, as I had no idea what to do. A couple of my colleagues came in to check on me and they were disgusted at what was said to me. I managed to persuade them to give me the weekend to decide, as I don’t believe anyone could make a choice like that overnight. I was crying myself to sleep mostly every night and in the mornings before work. I had had enough, no workplace should make you feel this bad.
Thankfully, I was actually offered another job at the end of the same week this meeting took place and happily accepted the company’s offer of leaving without notice. A couple of months following this, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, dating back 4 months when the problems at my previous job surfaced. 7 months later and I’m still suffering with depression from what I was put through at that job.
Now, work wise, I’m in a much better place and the work I am doing right now, just shows me how badly run that company really was. It was horrible going through what I went through, but I consider myself to have had a lucky escape.