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Is my workplace a load of poo?

(43 Posts)
Ladypunk Thu 08-Sep-11 09:41:34

Hello All!

I have an issue with work (who doesn't?).

What it is, is, I'm 7 months into my first pregnency, and I feel like I'm starting to struggle a bit. You see, I'm feeling heavy/achy/can't sleep - all the usual symptoms.

So, the other day I went in to speak with my normally lovely boss, explained the situation, and asked her if I could work a few days from home a week as a way to cope better with my workload. And basically, she seemed really, really reluctant, and more or less hinted that I should go on maternity leave early. I can't afford to do this. She said she would have to ask someone else (she's the MD?!). But, she's away today and all of next week... so, when will I get an answer?


What really bugs me is, other members of staff do it. Work from home, full time - all I want is a few days just to help me out. When I pointed this out to her she said that, to work from home was part of their original contract. I mean, WTF? My circumstances have changed, and I do feel as though I have always tried my best to be a good member of staff - I even learned to drive (at my own expense), because it would suit my role better. So now I need something, it just seems like I'm not getting the support I need.

Can anyone advise?


ripstheirthroatoutliveupstairs Thu 08-Sep-11 09:45:44

YANBU to want it, but, if your contract doesn't have the provision for working from home, YABU to expect it.
I have no idea about ML, my DD wasn't born in England.
Would your absence be noticed next week if you were to work a day at home?
If it wouldn't, that could be proof (for want of a better word) that it could work.

wheelshavefallenoffthebus Thu 08-Sep-11 09:47:24

You can't be forced to take mat leave early unless you are within 4 weeks of your due date and go off with a pregnancy related illness. Prior to that normal sick leave policy applies. So if they don't help you with coming up with a solution the last resort may be to go on sick leave. Do you have a good HR person or Occupational Health team you can discuss this with? Unfortunately some managers seem to lack the knowledge or training needed when they have pregnant employees and they can be male or female!
Good luck smile

SlinkyB Thu 08-Sep-11 09:51:55

When are you due to start your mat leave? If it's only a few weeks away, I'd keep pushing to work from home at least one day a week. Being heavily pregnant is bloody tiring, so I think your boss should be a little more understanding and accommodating...but then, I've never been a boss!

I think a lot of them don't like to start precedents, which might be her issue. Good luck.

Ladypunk Thu 08-Sep-11 09:54:18

Thanks for the responses!

You see, I think it would be more effective for me to do this, because a lot of my work involves writing and being on the internet. Therefore I do spend the days tapping away quietly.

I did actually get signed off sick last month for a week, because of anxiety. I'm absolutely not one of these types who screams stress at every challenge, but, the place I work at isn't very good... for instance, my boss keeps changing her mind as to if she's going to get me a maternity cover. It makes me worry that my job won't be here when I'm ready to come back. I was also trying for a promotion, but my pregnancy seems to have put that on hold...

Such a load of nonsense, isn't it?

Ladypunk Thu 08-Sep-11 09:55:31

Hello Slinky,

I'm due to go off the weekend before Halloween.


I'm having a Halloween themed baby shower! (I shall paint my tummy and go as a pumpkin). smile

MissTinaTeaspoon Thu 08-Sep-11 09:55:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NodsSmilesandBacksAway Thu 08-Sep-11 09:58:12

if you cant do the job, you will have to go on leave or sick

its not fair to the company to have someone wanting special privileges/not doing their job properly

Ladypunk Thu 08-Sep-11 10:01:36

Nods - I absolutely can do my job, and my boss is aware of this. Nothing wrong with my head, it's just that to do part of it from home, as other staff currently do, is not something I deem entirley unreasonable given my current circumstances.

Ladypunk Thu 08-Sep-11 10:03:57

Miss Tina - thanks for your response; so what happened next? When you got further on? And how was this lady before you had a baby? Was she horrid then?

Ha! I like your use of faces!

dogscatsandbabies Thu 08-Sep-11 10:09:47

I think that as a pregnant woman you can ask for a risk assessment to be carried out of your role and the impact it is having on pregnancy related symptoms. They can often make recommendations about ways to modify your work patterns or tasks to avoid work compounding your symptoms. If you're already in a fairly sedentary role unfortunately, a more comfortable chair might be all you're offered!

I agree with you that setting a precedent is likely a concern for a manager, and suggesting that you start maternity leave early is a common go to response. They can't enforce that you do this but certainly if you end up on long term sick leave I THINK it can be compulsory after 28 weeks depending on your company's policy.

In the short term, I would ask for the risk assessment and approach your midwife or GP for specific advice. If they can give you a written diagnosis of specific issues (rather than just pregnancy related tiredness which is sadly not considered a major problem!) you may get further with your boss.

An0therName Thu 08-Sep-11 10:10:00

Hi are you in the UK - cos if you are your boss has to give you Mat Leave and give you your job back - and you should have a risk assesement as well

MissTinaTeaspoon Thu 08-Sep-11 10:10:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ladypunk Thu 08-Sep-11 10:21:46

Hello - thanks for all this info!

MissTina - I haven't spoken to the MW about it yet. The conversation with my boss literally took place on Tuesday just gone.

I'm sure that I read somewhere that, if you're feeling terrible, they should try to offer an alternative way of working.

I understand the thing of setting a precencent...but in some ways, hasn't she already done this by allowing other people to work from home? Surely with today's technology this isn't such a big ask?

I have been a boss and helped a pregnant lady in the past. It was in a shop, and the work was quite physical. I stopped her doing that and taught her how to do all my paperwork so she could be cosy in my office, while I took on the physical stuff. It was the first time I'd done it but, it was good to put a process in place for a preggers person... the next preggers person did the same and they were both ok with it.

SlinkyB Thu 08-Sep-11 10:24:07

Ha! Love the idea of a Halloween-themed baby shower! smile

I was in a similar position to you last year, work not sympathetic at all (office full of women, but none of them Mothers and they don't like babies?!). I did have a few odd days off here and there for exhaustion/headaches, and spent the day on the sofa. I felt guilty at the time, and was worried about my sickness record, but looking back I don't regret it. You have to put yourself and your baby first.

Hopefully your boss will come around to the idea soon, fingers crossed, as it would be a shame to go down the sick route as others have said. So, YANBU.

MissTinaTeaspoon Thu 08-Sep-11 10:31:33

Time off sick with pregnancy related conditions shouldn't affect your sick record. But as someone said higher up, after a certain point they can ask you to start your ml early.

cantspel Thu 08-Sep-11 10:35:20

As far as i am aware and no doubt someone will be along to correct me if i am wrong. The fact that others work from home is nothing to do with it. If they have a contract that allows them homeworking it bears no relation to the contract that you have for office working.
For all you know everyone in the office might have different terms and conditions in their contracts as it is up to each individual and the employer.
You can request a risk assessment but this is relate to the work you do ie if you deal with in care settings who are know to lash out, heavy lifing ect.
You can be made redundant whilst on ML as long as the usual legal steps are taken and the job that you are doing ceases to exist.

A good place for advice on all work related issues is the martin lewis money savers site. The is a forum for all employment issues and alot of good advice is given.

Ladypunk Thu 08-Sep-11 10:36:46

Slinky, what does YANBU mean?

Well, I agree, the baby and me come first. What I find total bonkers about all of this, is, surely to help me out would avoid sickness? If I were a boss (and I have been), I'd try to think in the long term. And, I really wouldn't want to annoy a pregnant woman... the UK law seems to protect us quite well.

And what happened with you, you're getting into the realms of mummys vs. non mummys, which is a whole other issue! I once read a interesting article that, but that's a whole new thread!

And yes! Halloween! My best friend gingerly approached my about the issue (she is actually ginger as well), and I'm really not a baby-shower person... but then when she said about Halloween I thought that was very, very cool. I'm a bit of a goth at heart...


Ladypunk Thu 08-Sep-11 10:41:46

Thanks cantspel - I see what you mean. Mmm. I suppose it's, if they can do it, then could they be up for some change, bearing in mind my change of cirumstances, and the fact that I have done things to help them (like the driving thing). I suppose, it almost feels like an issue of supporting someone. If the situation were reversed I'm sure I would let it happen.

Gawd, there's another thought though - what if she thinks I'm a load of rubbish at my job, and is not helping me on purpose so I WON'T go back?


Takitezee Thu 08-Sep-11 12:05:13

I'm going to go against the grain and say you are being unreasonable. You don't have any special circumstances or illnesses that you mention just the usual pregnancy uncomfortableness. I have been there three times and understand how tiring it is but I just saw it as part of pregnancy that needed to be put up with and got through it.

I can understand why the company don't want to set a precedent. I think there can be a lot of underlying animosity towards pregnant women with their time off for appointments, etc as I have it experienced myself and I feel that asking for special treatment on top on the usual makes things worse for others.

SlinkyB Thu 08-Sep-11 16:45:57

YANBU = You Are Not Being Unreasonable! (I'll blame your pregnancy-addled brain).

I too felt like the others resented all my midwife appointments, so the atmosphere was awful.

Roll on maternity leave eh Ladypunk?!

Ladypunk Fri 09-Sep-11 09:03:43

I could understand why someone would think I'm being unreasonable, seriously. But, having been a boss myself, and knowing how I've responded to two pregnant ladies in the workplace, I know how I would respond. I think perhaps I'm judging others by the way I'd handle it.

I guess I'm also thinking about all the things I've done for this company in the past, like, learn to drive, study various computer programmes, take over from my line-manager when she went (for no extra moneyt I might add! I was lead to believe that would put me in good stead for a promo...then I fell pregnant), work on Saturdays and away for weekends for no extra pay, or days in lieu. I guess I just thought that, now I need some help, I would get it. sad

Also, from a technalogical point of view, it's completely plausable... that, and bearing in mind that other staff manage their workload in this way, made me think it might be possible for me, too.

I don't want special treatment - I hate that term - I simply want to feel as though I have the support to manage my workload in a way that would be more beneficial to them, rather than feeling terrible to such a degree that I have to go on sick. I really don't want that at all.

Oh dear! O well, it's not long until the big push now anyways...

SisterCarrie Fri 09-Sep-11 10:29:55

I'd have to agree with Takitezee - I was in exactly the same position last year in a department dominated by late-20s/early 30s childless women (of which I was one for a long time!). Men/fathers and mothers were in the extreme minority due to the type of work - heavy admin, long hours, demanding colleagues and, in my role, a fair bit of physical work. No slack was cut for me at all, right from the start and although I was lucky not to have morning sickness, the physical nature and long hours certainly took their toll some days and I ended up going on ML a month before my EDD - I used all my remaining holiday and half of the allocation for the year ahead (which was allowed at my company) to take over a month off beforehand though and I sort of 'wound down' my workload during that time, working 1 or 2 days a week. Maybe that would be a possibility for you as they are under no obligation to let you work from home.

If you're planning on returning to your job, but with a different working pattern for childcare reasons, you're going to have to put a proposal together to show them how Flexible Working would happen - might be worth doing it now as a sort of test run, showing how working from home would be beneficial to them/the department (avoiding you missing days sick/them having to pay for a temp) rather than YOU, IYSWIM. Shows you're a team player and thinking long term.

Good luck with the pregnancy, it's important to maintain perspective on these things - you're not ill, you're not being required (from what I can tell in your posts) to do anything physical, so maybe get as many early nights as you can and try to suck it up for the next couple of months if you don't get anywhere with the plans for alternative working patterns. I didn't expect any change in attitude from my team as I was the same fit, healthy woman I was before, just had to be careful of myself and ask for help if I needed it, rather than expect a group of women who were years off having babies to understand what it was like for me (as I certainly knew nothing about pregnancy/kids before then!).

hotbot Fri 09-Sep-11 10:54:45

sooo - you write a lot and work on a computer,? so in whatw ay would working from home benefit you? i imagine your boss thinks you are taking the piss?

Ladypunk Fri 09-Sep-11 10:55:31

Hello SisterCarrie,

Thanks for your response and your advice about going back - it's great.

I don't expect a change in attitude at all. I work very closely with my boss and did have dreadful MS - but still, I went everywhere with her and never held back (we do travel a lot together). We even laughed and joked about it!

Did you cut your days down? I'm currently at 5 days pw. You see, another thing I guess I'm thinking (I'm starting to think it/s my mindset), is that, I used to do work from home in my last job a lot, and my boss was very reasonable about it. His attitude was, you're not a child, and if I didn't trust you to get on with it then you wouldn't have a job here... I actually prefer that kind of trust from a boss.

Mmm. You see what I'm thinking is that, if her reluctance to be flexible is the same when I'm ready to come back, then what I currently do isn't going to work for me, and I'll have to look for another job. That scares me. Just because, what if new baby+new job= nervous breakdown?

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