I worked for a very small company (just my boss and myself) in the private medical field. It was no secret that I would like to have children and I did get pregnant faster than anticipated, however I informed my boss when I was 9 weeks pregnant to maximise the time we had to put the appropriate plans in place.
I had put a lot into helping open the business (my boss did not have the skills required to actually see clients) so I knew full well without me or someone trained by me the business would fail. I had bought clients with me and worked very hard to help the business grow into something very successful.
We found a fantastic replacement who was employed on a fixed term contract and I spent 4 months training and handing over clients to ensure a smooth transition. I felt I had done everything I could to make my maternity leave as easy as possible. I was contacted numerous times after my maternity leave started to assist with business issues which I always swiftly reacted to.
I had mentioned during my pregnancy that I hoped to return part time and nothing was said to make me feel this wasn’t a possibly.
When my daughter was 4 months old I had a meeting with my boss where we agreed part time hours, days, holiday etc and this was also agreed via email. (I did not put in a formal flexible working request as I was stupid enough to think we were friends and in such a small business we could work it out between us). I then requested a small pay rise, I had not had one since the business opened 2 years previously and I felt I would have had one if I had not gone on maternity leave, unfortunately as the only full time employee I did not have anyone to compare to. I was told this was not possible with economic reasons stated.
Suddenly two months later (just before Christmas) I received an email saying that I must return full time or not at all, I was so shocked, I had basically lost my job as my boss was fully aware I could not return full time. I did not reply as I needed to get advice and I got a further email two weeks later stating that if I did not respond it would be taken to mean I did not wish to continue my employment!
I gained HR advice from a fellow mum and we started to put a case together. Unfortunately due to me not putting in a formal flexible working request the HR advisor did not think I would win at tribunal so we pursued a direct settlement. I was offered redundancy, this was then revoked, I started a compromise agreement but my boss would not cover the legal fees, in the end my boss decided to close the business (after asking me if closing the business would make me change my mind and come back as she knew I would feel a great deal of guilt about letting clients down). I turned down the offer and was finally made redundant! It ruined the final 4 months of my maternity leave and caused an enormous amount of stress.