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Advice please - feeling pressured to organise maternity leave (and everyone has an opinion!)

(19 Posts)
expectingprofessional Wed 03-Aug-11 13:22:26


I am feeling really upset that at 16 weeks pregnant (after three miscarriages) I am being pressured into organising leave and cover. I'm taking this pregnancy a step at a time - and feel that at five months pregnant there will be ample time for us to put in place arrangements for my cover. I only announced my pregnancy at 14 weeks, when I felt that I couldn't hide my bump any more. Ideally I'd have waited much longer.

I'm a CEO and I wrote to the Chair of my organisation (at fourteen weeks) stating that I am pregnant, my due date, when I want to commence ML, how long I want to take and that I'd like to take up to 10 KIT days during my ML.

However, someone loosely associated (works within the same federation but is not in any shape or form officially involved with my employment) apparently rang my Chairman last week to talk about his ideas. I find this totally insensitive, and my Chairman and I have seen this particular person off (although it took some doing, and the use of the terms 'my prerogative' and 'maternity legislation'). What I wanted to say was 'back off and mind your own'.

I am meeting my Chairman at the end of this month when I'll be about 20 weeks pregnant to finalise arrangements. I've made it very clear what I want, and I know my rights - I am not asking my employer for any favours, nor any advice.

My issue is that suddenly everyone seems to have an opinion on your life choices when you're pregnant, as if in my forties I've somehow lost the ability to make decisions for myself.

My Chairman even said 'well you've had losses so we should plan for if the baby comes early'. I think this is a totally outrageous thing to say and hugely insensitive to the trauma I've had over the last year, losing three babies.

Perhaps I am hormonal and over sensitive. But it's really upset me.

I am dreading my Chairman saying something like 'you won't want to take only six months' or 'you won't want to work up to the birth'. I'm fully aware that both of those points but I have very good reasons for both of them. And I know the notice periods I will have to give if I want to change these arrangements.

I've also just had an email from a male colleauge offering me uninvited advice about taking baths and exercise!

Anyone got any tips on keeping an employer 'in line' ie: not having to listen to them advise? All I want is to formally finalise arrangements, I really don't want their advice.

Ellypoo Wed 03-Aug-11 17:51:22

Maybe they are trying to be prepared because you are in such a senior position, and it is much harder to organise cover at your level, and there will (I imagine) need to be a longer than normal handover period.
Personally, I am currently 16wks and told my employer at 12wks but I had already been thinking about cover and how it would work since I found out I was pregnant. I am the Head of Finance & Administration in our company and am planning a 3 month handover period with the person we employ to cover my maternity leave (I intend to have 5 months off, but work 2/3 days each month during this time) - my MD said that's fine, we'll work to that but that I (myself) need to be prepared that I may well change my mind once the baby arrives. I thought this was very sensible advice (he is a father, and so has more experience than I do!!).
What I am trying to say (in a very long-winded way!) is that it isn't just about you & what you are intending to take, but also about the company planning for you not being around, and wanting to have different scenarios covered 'just in case' - they seem to be being quite open about it, which is good, isn't it?
Re the unvited advice, maybe it is just because your colleague knew what helped his wife out when she was pregnant? Maybe not, but perhaps he was just trying to be friendly?
I can understand that you are sensitive about it, and I hope I haven't been out of order at all. Good luck x

flowery Wed 03-Aug-11 21:17:52

I'm not sure I'm following properly.

What 'ideas' was someone talking to your Chairman about that were so insensitive? Ideas for what?

You say you've had to make it clear you know what you rights are. Do you feel your rights are being or may be infringed in some way?

As a principle I don't think there's anything wrong at all in planning maternity cover early. It shouldn't particularly be your responsibility necessarily but I can't see any problem with trying to be organised and do it early.

Lizcat Wed 03-Aug-11 21:18:55

The advice thing will only get worse once the baby is here so I would get a duck's back pretty quick for that.
Due to your position in the business I think the chairman is probably thinking out loud of the avenues that need to be covered while you on maternity and what could happen before you plan to go. He has proved to be your friend against others already and I would try to see his comment in this light.
Personally having been in a senior position and suggested that I would take less maternity leave that I was entitled to, I found myself with a stubborn baby who turned up very late and wanting to be off longer. When I went to advise that I would not be back as I had previously planned I was made to feel difficult about it. If I had my time again I would leave it that I would take my full year and then give my 28 days notice that I wanted to come back early. I would have still gone back at roughly the time I did, but having to beg a favour to stay off a bit longer - time that I was entitled too was hard.

expectingprofessional Wed 03-Aug-11 22:40:23

flowery I have lost three babies in the last 13 months. My boss knows that I will organise my cover in the best interest of the company I run.

I find it offensive that anyone would doubt that and push me to do it
sooner than is necessary when they know very well I have suffered trauma around my losses, I am taking my pregnancy a step at a time and I have organised with my boss to meet at the end if this month to confirm my mat leave and plan cover.

It is my right not to feel harassed and due to my recent traumas related to pregnancy the risk assessment lists the avoidance of stress as priority.

For someone external to have gone to my boss to talk about my maternity leave without including me (as CEO) is surely inappropriate. If he'd rung me and said he'd like to offer to help that would have been very different.

The worst part though is after I explained that things were in place for planning between me and my employer, and I felt uncomfortable with him pushing things this early (I am petrified I could still lose the baby and am nervously awaiting a scan next week) he persisted - and he knows that 1. It's none of his business and 2. I'm pretty stressed over this already.

The fact is the reason he contacted my boss is to promote his agenda - ie: him covering - which is part of his agenda to take over more generally.

Personally I think my boss making any reference to an early baby is awful considering what I've been through. You can't plan for that surely?

I've said that I want to start ml when the baby comes and given them a due date which is allowed for in statute - they have no right surely to suggest different, surely - I thought it was my right to choose?

expectingprofessional Wed 03-Aug-11 22:43:23

Ps there is no reason for my boss to make any connection between having had miscarriages and a possibility of an early baby - there is no reason to believe one could make the other any more likely than a straight forward pregnancy.

expectingprofessional Wed 03-Aug-11 22:46:21

Pps my partner will be a Sahd and financially more than six months off isn't viable for us. However if somehow I do get to wanting/ being able to take more time off then I will give the appropriate notice - that's surely quite simple?

flowery Wed 03-Aug-11 23:00:10

I'm sorry for your losses.

However you do sound oversensitive tbh, although I can understand why.

If your employer want to make the decision about how soon to organize maternity cover rather than leaving it up to you, why is that 'offensive'? You make not think it's necessary now but it's their decision.

Whether this other person should have come to you first when discussing ideas about how to cover your maternity leave or was right to go straight to your Chairman is a matter for internal politics really. I'm not sure it's as obviously inappropriate as you think, and he may have felt offering to help you sort your own maternity cover was inappropriate as it should really be your Chairman's problem not yours as such. You say you feel he has other personal motives and you may be right but I'm not sure the situation would be any different if he'd done what he has done in a few weeks' time.

Yes you have the right to decide when you are taking maternity leave and when you are returning. But other than your Chairman's misinformed suggestion that your history might make planning for an early arrival sensible, is anyone pressuring you to change your dates against your will?

Yes you have the right not to be harassed, but are you being?

LoveBeingAtHomeOnMyOwn Thu 04-Aug-11 09:30:18

Expecting congratulations on your pregnancy, I am so sorry for all you have been through in the last year.

I would recommend sending him a copy of what you want to discuss so that the meeting can be as focused as possible.

It's not unusual for people to see an opportunity when someone is going on mat leave but you can't control what will happen whilst you are not there. Your boss no doubt just wants to make sure everything runs smoothly whilst you are gone, you should viewvthis as a compliment, how will he cope without you? grin

if you don't feel comfortable talking about something then either say so or agree to get back to him. Working till the day you have the baby does add an eliment of uncertainity and no doubt this also brings concerns about you.

expectingprofessional Thu 04-Aug-11 10:45:31

Ok. I get it. I am very sensitive.

I suppose what gets me annoyed is that these blokes know I have suffered post traumatic stress after my miscarriages and for that reason i want to discuss ml later (but within reason) rather than sooner .

There is no requirement to Tell the employer until 15 weeks prior to edd, but I had to because I was showing sad

But despite me telling the person who has no business in my maternity arrangements that I didn't want to discuss it, due to my previous traumas, he pushed me to discuss it again!

And that I have already arranged a meeting with my boss so that between us (he is very hands off) we could agree my maternity leave and then arrange cover, which is an entirely adequate way for it to be done and with plenty of time for it to be done.

And on the issue of me working up to the birth the employer will have to suck that inconvenience up, no? I've already said I realise I may want to change that (with the required notice) as I get closer. But it is my choice, not theirs? And that well need to ensure cover has a good handover period prior to my leaving, which I think is reasonable and doable.

LoveBeingAtHomeOnMyOwn Thu 04-Aug-11 11:17:21

Then don't discuss it with mr nosyparker. Simply reply if asked again it's a matter for discussion with CEO and I, or he can email his concerns to you/CEO for consideration.

I do understand. I have just started mat leave, I got pg after a miscarriage, I told work before I wanted too at 17 weeks cause I didn't feel able to hide it any longer.

Some people don't appricate what it does to you.

If you replace you being pg with redundancy they would have very similar comments/questions etc regardless of the fact you were losing your job.

If you don't feel able to/ready to discuss certain things before the offically required timescale then don't give them an idea and repeat the date you will confirm it is xxx.

All that said please do remember that none of this will matter when your baby is hear safe and sound so please don't get stressed out with it. I totally understand about not counting your chickens, I am still waiting for something to go wrong.

LoveBeingAtHomeOnMyOwn Thu 04-Aug-11 11:18:50

Btw all typos/spelling etc is the fault of baby brain/iPhone wink

RedBlanket Thu 04-Aug-11 11:29:29

Sounds like you are being a bit over sensitive. Your chariman sounds like he is being very supportive so far, especially seeing off this other person angling for your job.

Unwanted advice - your colleague is just trying to be helpful, not commenting on your ability to cope with your life. Have you never recommended something to a friend? Take it in the spirit its intended.

expectingprofessional Thu 04-Aug-11 11:49:00

Thank you lovebeing.

Mc does have a tendency to send one slightly batty sad

hildathebuilder Thu 04-Aug-11 12:02:54


I am afraid I also think you are ebing oversensitive, although understandably so. I had miscarriages, then was a risk of very late miscarriage, then had DS at 29 weeks. And although it pains me to say this I think you need to live for today but also at least consider what happens if you cannot work as late as you plan. I know many many people who have been on mat leave before they were obliged to tell their boss they were pregnant, and in all cases (mine included) it was difficult. I agree that you don't need to discuss things early, but if you have a plan with your chair I would stick with saying you will discuss it with your chair on xxx date, but it is too soon to discuss it with anyone else. And I would also try to always leave your day to day tasks in as organised a state as possible, just in case you may go on leave early.

My partners had to tell my clients that I had no only been pregnant but was now on maternity leave, as many people just hadn't noticed. That was a hard conversation for them to have and did in part endanger the business and made my return to work much harder.

lateatwork Thu 04-Aug-11 12:03:22

I am very sorry for your losses OP.

Its hard when you are pregnant- cause even though you can still function, make decisions and do your job, things that were in your control before, are now no longer in your control- cause there will be a period in the medium term when you wont be there to manage everything. For me it felt like I had ceased to matter once the pregnancy was announced- my opinion on how things were to be run was taken into account, but it wasnt 'as important' as those that were staying on once I was on maternity leave. Those around you that are feeling like they ought to be involved, are probably just feeling like they are going to be left 'holding the bag' when you are absent for that time. Of course you will do the right thing. Of course you are more than capable of working this stuff out by yourself- but you wont be there for that time.

I know after I fell pregnant post MCs, I also felt like I did not want the whole train to be moving soooo fast when I still felt that there was a big possibility that the whole thing would derail and I would have another MC and then my position would be damaged too (in my eyes..). But you cant stop it.

Re the whole early labour thing, if you are worried about that you can get tests and stuff every two weeks (ffn). Comments like your chairman's though are really very helpful as for me they fuel anxiety- but you cant control what people say. Try not to take it to heart.

You are protected about when you have to announce and organise things etc but from a stress point of view, I would really think about which things you can let go of, and which bits are important to keep control of...

expectingprofessional Thu 04-Aug-11 12:34:58


I am not at all concerned about early labour ... That isn't something I can plan for at this stage (16 weeks)... I imagine that I will be, if anything, late as most first deliveries are. Which is why I've said "up to the birth" .. I can take six-month off without being badly compromised financially (after which dp will be a Sahd). I don't want to waste time at home prior to the birth as that could mean much less time at home with the baby.

lateatwork Thu 04-Aug-11 13:15:57

absolutely!! totally agree that timing of taking maternity leave is important... massaging in holidays as well so that you get the maximum time spent with bubs before going back to work (with my first bub I block booked my annual leave for the last three weeks before my ML was due to start- which worked as bub was born 41 plus 6... (so was off from 37 weeks...) but wouldnt have if bub was born earlier than due date as I would have 'lost' the annual leave as I couldnt take it as it would carry over into following financial year... yawn...)

I hope you didnt think i was suggesting that baby WOULD come early.. I have no idea if it will or not (clearly!!). Can you plan for early delivery? um I dont think you can.... certainly cant plan for every single eventuality.

oh yes and with babies, everyone has an opinion...

tiggersreturn Sun 07-Aug-11 22:06:43

I understand the trauma of feeling that doing anything is tempting the pg to end and also the pressure of having to go back at 6 months due to not being able to take any more leave. I had the 1st with this pg and the 2nd with my last one where due to changing jobs when 17 weeks pg and the legislation at the time I was only entitled to 24 weeks maternity leave.

The becoming public property thing is unfortunately a side effect of pg. All you can do is remain calm and professional and assure everyone that arrangements are well in hand.

However, your colleagues' concerns will be partly centring on how they will cover your responsibilities while you are off, what happens if you suddenly need to go off earlier and have not yet handed over fully (pg can be unpredictable at any time irrelevant of personal history), and also what happens if you decide that you don't want to come back full time or at all. Obviously there is a political side to this too and people will be trying to make hay of the position given your role.

If you can answer all these questions to your satisfaction (as if it was a 3rd party putting you in this spot) then do so and put it to the chairman as a business case and the answer to anyone else is that all matters are well in hand or arrangements are being made.

I know you've said that you want to work up to your due date but do take into account the nature of your job, the hours that you work and the stress you will be under. Obviously this baby is very important to you and you do need to weigh up carefully the likely energy you'll have at the end and what you'll need to do so you don't have to go off suddenly. Consider what aspects of your job are likely to try you most e.g. do you have a long commute, work long hours, get stressed by particular aspects and see if these can be managed by working at home a certain number of days a week towards the end, taking holiday of a few days a week at that point or delegating a particularly trying duty. Also remember that you will accrue holiday over your maternity leave and should have the option of adding these to the end of your leave so you can stay off a little longer and be fully paid at that point. Remember that if you work 5 days a week you are entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday a year i.e. including bank holidays to take you up to your entitlement.

BTW not all first deliveries are late. Babies come at their own sweet time and convenience.

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