Annual leave for IVF and demotion after returning to work

I was effectively sidelined and demoted from my role as soon as I told my manager I was going to begin a course of IVF treatment. I had to use my annual leave to do the treatment as my workplace had no provision in place for time off. This combined with a chaotic re-structure at work led me to burn out and I needed to take time off work.

On returning to work pregnant, it was made clear to me that I was not going to be included in the work you would expect at my level. My manager and I had a frank conversation and this was the outcome: effective demotion on the same salary. It was said in as many words that I had no status nor future at this company. Further, there was a severe disturbance to my pay meaning that I effectively got paid next to nothing for 2 or 3 months in a row. My manager nor HR would help me to resolve this issue which was extremely stressful.

Further into my pregnancy, I discovered that my role was being advertised for as a full time, permanent replacement. I had told my manager that I would be returning after 6 months of maternity leave. On challenging him, he said that my role was going to be covered by two people going forward. This too was still clearly discrimination as they we literally halving my remit. HR refused to speak with me and I took my complaint forward formally to my senior manager. My senior manager recognised quickly that they were breaking the law and forced my manager to apologise to me and to backtrack on this supposed plan.

I had no intention of returning after mat leave but did so due to the Covid pandemic as the other job I had lined up for myself seemed insecure due the industry it was in. On returning, I was given NO work nor was I included in ANY meetings that someone of my level should be. Not a single person from the senior management contacted me. My manager gave no support in accessing the equipment I would need from the office in order to work from home effectively. The office was of course shut and inaccessible. There was zero support as a returner.

Prior to mat leave I had management over a large team which had been gutted whilst I was away. I was completely sidelined. My manager spoke to me about other roles that might be of interest to me within the organisation. I strongly felt that I was to be made redundant any day. Luckily I found out we were pregnant again accidentally and I quickly told my manager in order to help prevent them from moving forward with my redundancy. I am now working from home full time with one report and quite literally no work to do. Although this in some ways is a fortunate position to be in, it does effect my confidence quite badly as it feels like an awful long time since I was a valued employee and member of a team. It is a shame that after 15 years of experience and success in my industry my employer has zero use of my skills simply due to ‘women’s issues’. I feel like I have an awful lot to offer and much unused potential if they could look beyond my uterus. Prior to trying for a family, I would have said that sexism in the work place was not a common problem. However, I can now see that it is endemic. Women are viewed very differently when they start a family.


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