Shortly after starting a new job I found out that I was pregnant. I informed my team leader straight away as I was a high-risk pregnancy following a stillbirth earlier in the year and would need regular appointments from the beginning of my pregnancy. At first everything seemed fine and I was congratulated, and they were fine with me taking the time I needed for my appointments. And then I developed Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I was being sick 40-50 times a day, and was really struggling despite medication. Comments began to be made about how many scans I needed and appointments with my consultant. And I was directly told that “pregnancy is not a sickness”. One morning I arrived in the building early but had to take myself to the staff bathroom to be sick, leading me to be 15 minutes late into the office. I happened to be on training that day so didn’t check my emails until late in the afternoon. I had an email from my team leader telling me that I would need to make up the time I’d spent being sick by working through my lunch break the following day. I went to my GP that evening and ended up in hospital on IV’s for dehydration, and was declared “unfit for work”. This continued throughout my pregnancy, and I then had further complications putting my son’s life at risk. So under the advice of my Dr I did not return to work. I received an email from a colleague telling me that I needed to “pull myself together” as there were plenty of other people in the office who were pregnant and weren’t making such a “fuss” over it. I chose to ignore this.
9 months into my maternity leave, I received an email demanding that I return to work within 3 weeks. I refused to do so, asserting my right to 12 months maternity leave. I then decided that I should raise my grievances with HR. In a meeting that I attended regarding these issues, it was suggested to me that the issue was my hormones, and that I shouldn’t have taken the comments and emails so personally. They then tried to suggest that my work performance was not up to scratch, and that this was an issue that had been raised with me (it had not). They also suggested that I was exaggerating the effect that the stress had on my general heath by these emails and comments. I was specifically asked if I planned to have any more children and told that they “hoped not” considering the difficult pregnancy I had with my son.
Ultimately I decided that I could not return to work for them, but also that I couldn’t take them to tribunal. So I handed in my notice. Given my sickness and terms of my contract I had been unable to take any holiday prior to the start of my maternity leave (7 months after I began working for them). I was also, of course entitled to the 12 months worth of holiday that I had accrued during my maternity leave. My maternity leave ended in the February and they were insistent during telephone conversations that I would only be paid the holiday pay accrued from January 1st until the date my employment ended. Eventually I did receive 12 months of holiday pay, but have not been paid the additional 7 months worth, and doubt that I ever will be.