After years of climbing up the ladder, I’m back at the bottom

My story. This happened back in 2018/19.

I have worked for my company since 2010 and am still there at present.

I started in a customer service role and was in that department for 2 years before moving up to the finance department. I was very happy in my role and the team became like a little family. I was quite close to my line manager and considered him a friend.

I became pregnant in 2017, everyone was so happy for me, I remember my line manager giving me a huge hug when I told him. He was very supportive throughout the pregnancy and no questions were asked whenever I needed time off.

My baby girl was born January 2018 and I’d planned to take a years maternity. I kept in touch with my team often and took baby in to see everyone a number of times.

Going back to work always played on my mind, especially towards the end of my maternity, I didn’t want to leave my baby for a few hours let alone all day, 5 days a week!

Eventually I went into work for the keeping in touch days and left baby with daddy, I got used to it AND actually enjoyed the freedom, being able to get up when I wanted, make myself tea and drink it when it was still hot and being able to go to the loo alone!

But I still wasn’t happy with the idea of leaving her 5 days a week and I couldn’t have afforded to put her in a nursery even if I’d have wanted too.

I started having back to work meetings before I was due to return in January 2019. I felt they were quite positive with a number of options discussed, including reduced hours, job share etc. Ideally I wanted to work less hours and only do 3 days a week or a job share would have been perfect.

After a while a decision was made between my line manager and HR and then another meeting was arranged where they told me what conclusion they had come too – it was the worst one for me, they wanted me to do the same hours but told me I could do them in 4 days rather than 5! Which would have meant I’d have left early in the morning and not get in until after my little girl was in bed.

I was so shocked after all the possibilities were discussed, that they’d decided on this one that hadn’t really been mentioned, other than me saying I really wouldn’t want to do that!

I felt let down by HR who had acted as if they were my friend and had my best interests at heart because ‘they too were a mother and had been there’!?
Most of all I felt betrayed by my line manager, why didn’t he fight my corner a bit more, he knew my situation.

Once I knew this was the only option for me and after very long discussions with my partner and working out all our finances (I was the higher earner and the mortgage, bills, everything is in my name) I decided to hand in my notice.

I was so upset, I felt I’d been given no option but at the same time I felt a huge sense of relief and it felt like I’d made the right decision. My line manager was shocked, even upset when I broke the news to him, but he didn’t try to change my mind, he didn’t suggest he’d go back to HR. So I left it at that and was fully prepared to leave.

Whilst I was working my last month’s notice, HR came to me and said there was a temporary part time opportunity come up, just to help out on a data project for a short time, I think it was for a month or two. I happily agreed to take on this temporary work, it was for the 3 days I had wanted and worked well, I thought even if it only lasted two months, at least it meant I was still earning money.

Then another permanent part-time opportunity came up in another department, (part-time jobs at this company are practically non-existent) so I went for it and got the job straight away. I was over the moon and I’m still in that job now, the team is great and the hours are so flexible it works perfectly.

The only thing that I haven’t been able to get over and that still stings a little, is after being with the company for so many years, giving them my loyalty, helping out wherever I could, extra hours, everything. Climbing up the ladder and earning a decent salary, I am now right back at the bottom, on one of the lowest wages in the company and all because I chose to have a child.

Since being back at work I have noticed a trend, so many women that go on maternity rarely return and the ones that have, tend to have been ones at a higher management level and their reduced hours, working from home days have appeared to have been granted!? There are even job shares in different departments.

For a company that claim to be forward thinking and have a huge range of benefits for staff and care for the wellbeing of their staff, I would beg to differ and just can’t see how this is acceptable in today’s society.

I wish more was done for working mothers/parents and companies were scrutinised over the decisions made for women returning to work after maternity leave.


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