Within a few weeks of informing them I was pregnant, I was asked if I would like to have a conversation about leaving

I had worked for my employer for a number of years without any problems when I became pregnant.  Within a few weeks of informing them, I was asked if I would like to have a conversation about leaving rather than just going on maternity leave, which I declined as I was intending to return to work after maternity leave (this in itself should not have happened).

A programme of what in hindsight was tantamount to bullying then began, with me being set higher than usual targets, and eventually the threat of disciplinary action due to poor performance, which culminated in being paid off not to return (with a strong implication that if I didn’t accept, the disciplinary procedures would necessarily lead to termination of employment).  I didn’t feel I had a choice financially with a baby on the way and it made me very stressed, but it left me in a position where I could not return to the career that I had built up for myself with a lot of hard work, and seeking a new role after maternity leave with badly dented confidence.

My pregnancy was never stated as the reason (it was all chalked up to performance issues which only began once they knew I was pregnant), but I believe that it was the cause.  A few years before (at the same company), a male colleague who was not from the UK became a father for the first time, and his line manager asked me if it was obligatory to tell the father that he was entitled to take paternity leave in the hope that if he didn’t know he was allowed to take any time off, then he wouldn’t ask for or take any leave.

I regard myself as lucky because my employer did consult legal advice on what would happen if I took them to a tribunal, offered me a comparative amount to any compensation I would have received, and I didn’t have to go through the stress and prolonged period of a legal dispute (while pregnant and later with a baby). However it is appalling that an employer can regard employment law as something they can simply buy their way out of if they offer enough money.

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