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to have taken 3 maternity leaves?

(105 Posts)
Kathyis12feethighandbites Thu 22-Oct-09 14:40:00

This thread is making me very uncomfortable.
I am wondering if I am one of these women who is seen as taking the piss, abusing our generous employment rights etc.
I know that is how my head of department sees it.

I've had 3 children in 5 years, taken an average of 3 months off in each pg due to hyperemesis. This time I was sick right the way through so was not working at 100% capacity the rest of the time though I did my very best.
I took 6 months mat leave the first time, a year the second and will take 9 months this time. I have never taken my full holiday entitlement because I feel too bad about it.

Should I have not had the third child, especially given that I knew I was likely to get hyperemesis again?

My employer is a big one (a university) so should be able to absorb the cost, BUT as there is a policy of not always giving the dept any money for cover (even when they are saving money on salary hmm) the strain did fall on colleagues/the departmental budget.

fernie3 Thu 22-Oct-09 14:44:35

I know its probably not what you want to hear but I think it is a little unreasonable to take so much maternity leave in such a short space of time. I dont want to offend you but this is one of the reasons I have not returned to work - I knew I would have more children and it didnt seem fair to take a job knowing I would not be there for large chunks of the near future.

Kathyis12feethighandbites Thu 22-Oct-09 14:46:32

Fernie thank you for being honest - I wouldn't have posted in AIBU if I just wanted everyone to be on my side smile

prettyfly1 Thu 22-Oct-09 14:47:47

I think tbh I agree. If you wanted more children so quickly, should you have returned to work? I understand even for the second child but three in five years, bearing in mind that you know the impact to your health does seem like it would be tough on your colleagues.

thatsnotmymonster Thu 22-Oct-09 14:48:30

Well it is the law that you can take it.

I, like Fernie, decided to give up work when I was pg with dc2. I had 3 in 3 years so I just thought it would be too much. I wanted to be able to stay at home with them too.

1dilemma Thu 22-Oct-09 14:49:47

It shouldn't make you uncomfortable it's a debate that needs having.

Your question is one I would answer as your life you have to live it by your standards. What is your relationship with your employer? how hard do you work normally? can other people do your job? (sounds like they do....) what do you do for them?

just thoughts not expecting an answer to those questions

someone else posted on there that they took their leave then gave notice the implication of their post (although not stated directly) was it was always their intention to give notice that IMHO is more morally questionable.

I've just started leave but as others have pointed out I've more than covered it in unpaid overtime!! My job is tenuous to say the least I consider the 'colleagues' phoning up asking for my job to be far more morally questionable than my action in taking leave (especially the one-male-who is trying to bargain to take over my job!!)

Sorry for the long post

Are you planning a 4th? grin

theDeadPirateRoberts Thu 22-Oct-09 14:50:08

I think YANBU actually - how long had you worked for them before, and how long do you expect to stay? 5 years may not be that much in the grand scale of things, and by having the children in one hit you'll be able to get a working routine back and stay with it (assuming no 4th). Would it have been better to have one every 5 years? Or limit your family to keep an employer happy?

Kathyis12feethighandbites Thu 22-Oct-09 14:50:45

I would have waited longer for the 3rd but dh wanted to get it out of the way.
Of course, if we had shared parental leave he could have taken some....

1dilemma Thu 22-Oct-09 14:52:23

oh I am presuming you see this as a career job you are returning to? if you are going to resign at the end of this then YABU

as is my SIL who is intending to return to work ASAP full-time and allready trying for her next so that she can get the full leave again then stop work. That is wrong.

1dilemma Thu 22-Oct-09 14:54:07

what and stuff his career too? would that have helped you as a family? would that have made that much difference on your employer?

Kathyis12feethighandbites Thu 22-Oct-09 14:54:49

Worked for them since Jan 02, plan to stay for the foreseeable future (though HoD may have other ideas...)
I think I work hard. I certainly volunteer to do things on top of normal stuff. And as I say, I don't tend to take all my holiday.

HolidaysQueen Thu 22-Oct-09 14:55:18

Totting up that, it seems like you have had 3 years out of the last 5 out due to pregnancy and the burden of covering that has fallen on colleagues. TBH it seems a bit excessive to me.

I guess my personal view is that you should go back for at least as long as you were away before you take another mat leave. It just seems so disruptive to colleagues otherwise. I don't care about the impact on a big business (they can afford it and just treat employees as 'resource' rather than people anyway), but if it impinges on colleagues then I think it is a bit too selfish.

I was out for 12 months with my DS, so had no intention of going on another mat leave for at least a year after being back. Been back 7 months now, and not yet trying so work will likely get at least 18 months out of me before I go off again. I'll take another 12 months for a second DC and if we went for a third baby then I would again make sure I was back for at least a year before going off again. But that is just what seems reasonable to me.

I know it doesn't always works out like that and you can't plan when to have kids, but unless people are getting close to or in their 40s then a reasonable amount of spacing isn't too much to ask? Contraception can help with that, can't it?

theDeadPirateRoberts Thu 22-Oct-09 14:55:44

If it's a career then getting all the tricky high-dependency bits out of the way in one hit makes sense. Much more sense than quitting work for a few years and finding that you've completely lost your place on the ladder (and depriving the industry of your hard-won skills wink).

HolidaysQueen Thu 22-Oct-09 14:57:48

But you are entitled to it, and I would always support your right to have the leave you have! TBH employers know that there will always be maternity leave, so they should organise themselves sufficiently that they minimise the negative impact on other employees. If they did that, then it wouldn't matter how much mat leave you took!

Kathyis12feethighandbites Thu 22-Oct-09 14:58:29

Well, if there was shared parental leave dh could take quite a bit before it added up to what I have taken over the years.

I can't possibly have a 4th child when I was so sick with this one but probably wouldn't have done anyway - would certainly have had to give up work if I had been planning to.

Fennel Thu 22-Oct-09 14:58:42


I also had 3 maternity leaves in 4 years for a similar employer and did feel guilty about it, but in retrospect I think I was being stupidly over-diligent in feeling guilty. (I only had 12 months in total for the 3 of them, so I didn't even take all the paid leave, and I worked in my maternity leaves too. and I wouldn't do that again).

Lots of people have loads of time off for other things, or just don't do much work throughout their working life, so if you generally work hard then over the grand scheme of working life the maternity leaves will be trivial. Enjoy it while you're on it, you'll probably have another 30 years of working life to make up for it.

daisyj Thu 22-Oct-09 14:58:59

This is something I've been wondering about recently. I think it does depend on how long you have been there/are intending to stay, and how old you are now (as in, if you were 35 when you have your first, then it makes sense that you didn't want a big gap if you wanted three children). Also, although I love the company I work for and feel a fair amount of loyalty towards them I am not so green as to imagine that loyalty would necessarily be repaid. I am 37 and currently contemplating my second (first is 7mo) and certainly wouldn't compromise my desire for a second child because I was worried about what they would think of me. I might personally balk at 3, though, but I wouldn't judge someone else.

Squishabelle Thu 22-Oct-09 14:59:55

I think its a bit excessive and unfair on other colleagues who have to cover. Its probably not so bad for a really large company/business but it must be terrible if this happens to a small business. Its this sort of thing that I think will make employers think long and hard about who they will employ in the future.

daisyj Thu 22-Oct-09 15:00:27

x-post - all moved fast while I was writing. YAdefNBU.

pigletmania Thu 22-Oct-09 15:01:30

TBH YABU, it is a lot to expect of an employer, even though they are a big one they are a business and are loosing money. If you wanted more children in a short space of time you should not have gone back to work whats the point if after say 3 months your pg again.

mazzystartled Thu 22-Oct-09 15:02:13


you are legally entitled to take maternity leave, you have contributed through your own and your partner's taxes and will continue to do so when you return to work

you work for a university, not an SME who might struggle more with your abscence, though tbh that is irrelevant also. if they do not find cover for you then someone in your dept is not fighting their corner hard enough.

so long as you are a competent, conscientious employee when you are there you should feel no qualms at all. and you should take your holiday entitlement too.

Kathyis12feethighandbites Thu 22-Oct-09 15:04:32

I'm 37 now.

What if some of the colleagues are men who have several dcs themselves (for which their wife's employers picked up the tab, of course)? Does that make a difference? Under those circs is it unfair that they have to cover? I do feel bad about childless colleagues but less so about the men with kids....

madamearcati Thu 22-Oct-09 15:05:21

Of course you are not being unreasonable.Would it be unreasonable for a man to father 3 children in 5 years ?
The law of teh land is that you can take a years maternity leave and sick leave.That is decided by democratically elected parliaments here and in Europe. You can't get fairer than that!

Soupspoon Thu 22-Oct-09 15:05:26


It is your manager's responsibility to manage your colleagues' work load; the manager (or their managers) can choose either to provide cover or to reduce output / lower service levels.

It is a fact of life that some women will have 3 children and some will have less than perfect pregnancies. Big workplaces should have the systems in place to deal with it.

Fennel Thu 22-Oct-09 15:08:29

it's misplaced guilt.

Don't worry about the childless colleagues, they'll get the long term benefits of not having children (my childless friends in academia are doing very nicely indeed, compared to those of us with several children).

It's women with children who are going to feel the financial hit over the decades, who are systematically under-paid and under-promoted, any study of the gender pay gap can tell you that. so don't feel bad about it.

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