First pregnancy, first job in a new industry - please help

(1 Post)
Mrsmkat Thu 24-Jan-13 19:42:53

Hello mumsnetters, I hope you can help me. This is my first post on here so I apologise in advance for not following any required MN etiquette.

I am a chartered accountant who career changed last year. I spent a year full time at culinary school in 2012 and finished my qualification at the end of the year. I have just started (about 2 weeks ago) a new job as a pastry chef. I am also approx 14 weeks pregnant.

As this is my first baby and my first job in a food career I just have a couple of queries.

My new employer is great, I took the job as I like the work (good commute, cuisine I like and freedom for me to run the pastry section as I see fit) but it's a small team (3 chefs and it's very hands on). I went for an unpaid trial (standard) and they offered me the job on the spot. I was 11 weeks pregnant then. I was meant to have my 12 week scan the next week. It then took a little while to agree a start date so I started the job the same week as my 12 week scan (I was actually 13 weeks along by then). The day after I had the 12 week scan I asked to speak to my employer (my 2nd day at work) but he was busy and fobbed me off (he tends to do that quite a bit) and he only spoke to me when I insisted the next day. I told him that I was pregnant and I wanted to declare this up front as being such a small team I needed him to think seriously about how this would / would not work for him and/or his business (baby due July) before we went any further.

His reaction wasn't exactly positive - but he did congratulate me at the end of the working day. I put his awkward reaction down to shock maybe.

Anyway that was about a week ago. I have since worked every single day and clocked up about 60 hours of labour. I asked about paperwork and getting an employment contract set up and he was very casual about it - I asked again middle of last week and he said he would get round to it. I can't help but think he is dragging his feet as he doesn't know what to do about my pregnancy.

I then had another chat with him saying that while I understand we are allowed to eat anything from the kitchen as a lunch meal, I would like to bring in my own food (salads, fruit etc) from time to time as I need to graze during the day ((due to "morning" (which is really "all day")sickness)) and so I might have a quick snack (literally 2 minutes) in between doing one task and the next. I explained this was also because I have gone off quite a lot of food and don't always fancy the daily soup / hot pot / sandwich of the day served where I work.

I also had to mention that I would need to take an actual break at lunch (this is not standard - the other chefs, all male, barely eat, take no breaks other than multiple fag breaks and eat standing up) but I do really need a sit down half way through the day and I had to ask for a chair.

I am not very familiar with the law (not UK born) and have always worked in very corporate ie EXTREMELY compliant, formal enviroments where one would never start work without a signed contract, payroll forms completed, etc etc

It is starting to worry me (the dodging the contract bit), the not knowing my actual rights in this industry and honestly whether I can work these sorts of hours in that envronment while carrying my little one. Sorry to ramble. My questions are:

Is it unreasonable to request a proper break (ie half an hour - SAT DOWN - , actual break) when working a shift that is 7am to 5pm (this is standard) even though no one else seems to take one?

Is it unreasonable to push and insist on a formal employment contract / confirmation? I have already clocked up 60 hours with not even 1 form or paper filled filled - I am worried about making a fuss until they at least pay me (mid Feb pay date) because right now, legally, I think they could actually not pay me if I leave /if we fall out.

How do ante natal appointments work? When I asked the head chef about this he said he would schedule my days off on those days. I read that I am entitled to paid time off for them - is that the same as having my days off as well? That said, I am not sure if my days off are paid or unpaid as I have no contract? Do I have to take those appointment as my days off? That means I will never have a weekend off in the next 6 months as obv there are no ante natal appointments over weekends. A man would never be in that position so is that fair?

Please help any legal eagles / employment or HR experts / hospitality careeer veterans.

Thanks so much. Sorry for the length!

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