My contract wasn’t extended because I was pregnant

  • Big 4 organisation. Repeatedly voted into the Times Top 50 Employers for Women
  • Started on a 3 month temp contract (via VMS) in Sep 2017
  • Worked in HR tech strategy
  • Pitched twice for perm contract
  • In Oct 2018 finally got approval for 6 month FTC (directly through the company)
  • Paperwork and “onboarding” process took so long that my FTC didn’t officially start until early Jan 2019
  • Restructure announced at work. Boss (a woman) made it clear I was part of long term plans
  • Discovered I was pregnant in mid-Dec 2018
  • Concerned about my status due to 6 month FTC, I told my boss in Feb 2019, making it clear I was in it for the long run and would be flexible in line with her plans. She was positive and promised to go away and “investigate options”. Her first question to me when I told her was “how long would I be taking for mat leave?” She also repeatedly brought up the example of a colleague who has 4 children and came back to work 3 months after having the last two.
  • Meanwhile, I am working on a large-scale, high stress project which needs to be delivered in Jul 2019. I am due in Aug 2019
  • Throughout this period, only positive noises coming from the boss. Lots of pressure to deliver before I go on “maternity leave”, even though the delay in processing my FTC paperwork means I am two weeks too late to be eligible for a maternity package.
  • In Jul 2019 it is finally revealed to me that they won’t be extending my FTC contract, but as a gesture of goodwill they will pay me up to the end of Aug. This was confirmed by the Head of Dept and my Line Manager.
  • To apply for gov maternity allowance, I need a specific form to be provided by my employer. The only way to get this form is to update our internal HR system with my due date and the date I plan to leave (2 weeks before my due date, and 4 weeks before my official last day with the firm).
  • After liaising with our outsourced HR department, I am advised that this is the only option, however filling in this data will set my last day as the day I go on mat leave, not the end of Aug as agreed by the Head of Dept and Line Manager. By the end of Aug I would of had my baby.
  • Was informed via Google chat, by my Line Manager, there’s nothing she can do and maybe I should talk to HR?
  • Inevitably I am forced to accept the situation to leave the firm at the start of Aug, £2k down on my forecast payout due to the constraints of the HR system, and without a job to return to.
  • My boss has a farewell chat with me and informs me that the global Brand Lead (who is 3 levels up from me and lives/works in the States) has the baby at home during the working day, with a nanny. Maybe I could do the same and then return to work (in a mythical role?) after 3 months, just as my colleague had done. I live in a flat and work from my kitchen table. I also do not earn nanny money.

Overall, my pregnancy was a hugely stressful time, as was my maternity leave due to the financial pressures I was under and the massive life shift I had just undergone, both personally and professionally. This definitely affected my baby and my parenting, and I believe, 18 months later, I am only coming out of the postnatal depression fog now.

I now work for a company I was client for while at this Big 4 firm. The job is fine, but it is not a role I would have applied for if I hadn’t had to due to circumstance.


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