Work stress during pregnancy - my rights

(9 Posts)
rageagainsttheBIL Tue 22-Dec-15 12:18:08

Two of my team have resigned and another is off on sick leave, leaving just me. I'm trying to recruit without much success and work out how I will handle workload but am really struggling, I only work part time as it is. I already am struggling with anxiety and am extremely concerned about the effect this additional stress is having on the baby.

My line manager and CEO are both on leave at present. I have flagged with HR but will still find myself at least two team members down at the start of next year.

My priority has to be me but what are my options, short of triggering maternity leave early by giving 28 day notice (I am 6 months pregnant)?

Is my employer legally obliged to ensure stress is not a major issue during pregnancy?

flowery Tue 22-Dec-15 13:54:31

They are not specifically obliged to reduce stress for pregnant women, no. They are obliged to do a risk assessment for you in terms of whether your job present any health and safety risks. It would be unusual for reducing stress to be part of that.

Has your doctor advised you that stress represents a particular risk for your pregnancy? If that is the case then a fit note or similar advising your employer of that would be sensible.

rageagainsttheBIL Tue 22-Dec-15 14:14:32

Thanks for your reply Flowery.

Not a particular risk no although it seems to be well documented that stress during pregnancy can cause issues with unborn baby/ birth weight and contribute to PND. The GP has referred me to counselling for anxiety / depression which my team situation is certainly compounding but I can't say work is the sole cause either. And someone better at dealing with stress may not find it too much of an issue I guess...

I can also access free private counselling through work which I am hoping I can set up in the new year.

I guess if I get desperate the GP may sign me off work... I'd be concerned about going on leave in those circumstances though. I'm already doubtful there will be a job for me when mat leave is over.

flowery Tue 22-Dec-15 14:34:28

If there are things that could be done to ease stress, then a fit note saying that might help. It's not necessarily about getting signed off, it's about getting what you think they should be doing recommended by a doctor to improve the chances of it happening.

Rather than considering whether they are legally obliged to reduce stress, perhaps think in terms of what that would actually look like. Are there things they could be doing, but aren't? Have you asked for them?

rageagainsttheBIL Tue 22-Dec-15 22:04:12

Thanks, you make good points. They are generally v supportive but they can't just magic up new staff overnight and we are really struggling to recruit.

They have v kindly told me not to worry and to put myself first but I find it difficult just to not care and let things go to shit potentially...

I'm just really not handling even moderate stress well at the moment, that's what it comes down to. I'm massively out of my comfort zone taking on some of my absent colleagues' tasks and while I'm bright enough to work it out, teach myself and would usually get stuck in, my confidence is extremely low at the moment and I'm struggling to focus.

Zazedonia Tue 22-Dec-15 22:20:39

I'd try not to get too paranoid about the effect on the baby. There's certainly a lot of anecdotal stuff on MNet and elsewhere about women suffering a lot of stress in pregnancy and baby being totally happy and chilled. Certainly happened to me. And after the baby is born you will be on leave, so probably ecstatic rather than depressed. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel already.

amarmai Tue 22-Dec-15 22:24:21

you are right to be concerned about the effects of stress on your pregnancy ,op. My dd had an emergency c section and she beleives it was brought on by stress at work. Keep in touch with dr and document bp and and other signs of increased stress.

flowery Wed 23-Dec-15 19:44:23

"Is my employer legally obliged to ensure stress is not a major issue during pregnancy?"

That was the question in your OP, but subsequently you've said they are trying to be supportive, have told you to put yourself first and are struggling to recruit additional help, plus you are not handling moderate stress well at the moment.

If the answer to the question in your OP had been "absolutely yes, your employer is specifically obliged by law to ensure stress isn't a major issue during pregnancy", what difference would that have made?

The implication of your question is that your employer isn't doing things it could be doing to reduce your stress, and you want to know if there is legislation you can point to in order to force them to do those things.
But it sounds as though perhaps that isn't the case?

Legal requirement or not, if your job is unnecessarily stressful and there are things that could be done to improve the situation, then ask for those things, and get a doctor's support if appropriate.

If there's not really a lot they could actually do, then the question doesn't really help you, and instead you need to think about what you can do to either relieve stress, disregard the things that are causing the stress, or handle it better.

rageagainsttheBIL Wed 23-Dec-15 21:55:34

Yes you are right Flowery, that isn't really the case - since I flagged up how I was feeling they have been very supportive and I've realised that the main issue for me personally is in dealing with the stress effectively and accepting I can only do so much.

Thankfully I'm feeling a lot better already tbh, I think yesterday was a very low point for me thanks to a series of unfortunate events relating to my team and panicking having read a scary article about the impact of stress on baby in womb.

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