I was working for a large international organisation when I became pregnant with my first child. During the course of my pregnancy, the company experienced some difficult times and announced redundancies. I didn’t think much of it because I was one of five people (all others were men) doing the same role and was in the middle of running a long term project. However, when it came to announcing the redundancies, my role was put at risk. When my line manager and HR manager held the meeting to tell me, they made no mention of the pregnancy at all. When I later raised it, they only referred to it as “my situation”. Only one of the other 4 people doing the same role was put at risk – the only chap who was over 50.
I appealed the decision because I knew that my role was not redundant. One of the divisional managers called me aside and said “you wouldn’t really want to do this job with a new baby, it would be very difficult to travel and do what is needed”. During my appeal, my line manager said that there had been some performance issues – and yet I had never been told of any issues with my performance and had recently before that received a pay rise because I was taking on a more responsible role.
In the end, the consultation period finished a month before my baby was due. I consulted a solicitor about taking them to court but I had the added complication that my husband worked in the same department and didn’t want to risk him losing his position rendering us with no income at all. I signed the compromise agreement and took the cash.
A lot of people said to me that it had worked out well, a nice redundancy package and time off with my new child. What they didn’t realise was that I felt like I’d lost my whole identity and knew it would be far more difficult to get a job with a gap in my career. When I did find a new job, it was at less than half the salary I had been on previously. I’ve worked full-time since my children were very small, who is anyone else to decide whether I would want to do that or not? I’m happy now but I can honestly say that I’ve never got over the way I was treated.