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Where do I stand? Awful time during pregnancy at work, no contact on Maternity Leave... resignation?

(12 Posts)
MaternalMusings Fri 09-Nov-12 19:01:01

Hello all

The short version:
My work weren't very nice during my pregnancy. Didn't appreciate pregnancy related issues. I was passed up for promotions and payrises. Since I went on Maternity Leave in June this year I've had zero contact from anyone - whether work related or personal (I did USED to be friends with these people outside of work too!). I've just seen an email that I was CC'd in that says "Maternal Musings no longer works for the company, please amend the email address associated with this account". I'm on Maternity Leave, I haven't LEFT. They obviously don't expect to see me back in my old job! What can I do? Where do I stand? If I was to leave, how would my SMP work? I didn't get any Maternity pay from the company, I only get SMP but it's paid through work into my bank account. Will I need to reapply?

The long version:

I'll try and keep this short and concise! (I'm not renowned for being able to do that very well however! Please bear with me!)

I've worked for a fashion retail head office since March 2009. I got on really well with colleagues both inside and outside the office. It's quite a young office however, both in age and the mentality for those who aren't so young. I didn't exactly make it unknown that my partner and I wanted a family one day. But why shouldn't I? Oh apart from the fact that it isn't "cool" to want to settle down and get on with life. The people at the office have that 'Peter Pan syndrome' and just don't want to grow up!

When we decided to move from an apartment in central London to a 2 bedroom cottage in Essex in July 2011, the office was already gossiping that I was pregnant. It got back to me straight away. That's when the colleagues changed. My boss stopped looping me into emails. My boss stopped signing off my proposals... or even reading them. I was refused a payrise, despite fulfilling all that was asked of me and more. (I was told there was a freeze on pay... yet 3 people within the department were given payrises soon after!). I always got to work early and stayed late. I was running an entire department on my own, no assistants, no manager.

I fell pregnant in November 2011. I had an awful pregnancy. At 12 weeks I had CVS. I still went to work, did work at home and kept my head down. I had 7 additional scans during the pregnancy and was being seen between 3 different hospitals. When I was 32 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with SPD. I was in absolute agony but continued to drag myself into work. I made my employers well aware of my condition. I wasn't provided with appropriate equipment at my desk to help keep me comfortable, despite several conversations about this. I ended up making a foot stool to keep my feet elevated (Doctors advice for swollen feet and SPD) out of two cardboard boxes. Everyone could see that's what I had done and yet nobody questioned it. I took cushions and pillows to sit on at my desk and during my last 2 weeks also had my hot water bottle for my back (in June!!). It got to the point where my boss was ignoring me completely. Didn't even say good morning as he passed my desk. Even though 9 months before, we were friends outside of work!!

A manager was employed 2 months before my Maternity Leave. We were however, basically, at the same level. I don't think she liked that; as I questioned her proposals and offered my own opinions. A week before my Maternity Leave began she took me aside and asked why I was "looking down". So I said I believed they were deliberately keeping me out the loop of things. My appraisal had been re-scheduled and re-scheduled and re-scheduled since April 2012. They obviously didn't want to give me an appraisal as I would have asked for another payrise (no payrise since May 2010, despite promises etc). She said that they were just in a 'transition period' because of my impending leave. But SURELY I still should have been kept in the loop? I was that fed up that I just left it at that. It felt like they were trying to push me out by making me so fed up with the place... so I would voluntarily leave. I had so much other stress and strain going on... but I WISH I'd gone to HR about it all. I WISH I'd stood up to everyone. But I'm not someone who likes confrontation! And they knew that. They knew I was too good natured.

On my last day (22nd June 2012) My boss didn't utter a word. No 'thank you for the past 3 years of hard work and dedication' not even a 'good luck with everything!'. NOTHING. I was gobsmacked. But it certainly put everything into perspective.

I thought I would use my Maternity Leave to see how things would go with work. To see if they would keep in touch... about developments within the department, and the new 'team' I was going to be part of, and of course about new vacancies.

Since I had my amazing baby boy, I haven't had a single text, email or phone call from anyone. Not even a work related one. I've been checking my emails intermittently, as I said I would, but it's all generic. I've not been looped into any developments or updates etc.

Now then, I've literally just checked my emails and saw one from the aforementioned new manager. I was CC'd and I get the impression she didn't realise. She had written "Maternal Musings no longer works for the company, please can you amend the email address associated with this account". EXCUSE ME WHAT?

Nice to know I'm being remembered on my maternity leave after all! They obviously don't expect to have me back at work.

I don't think that I would be 'looked after' if I went back. I wasn't looked after while I was pregnant and I doubt they would be sympathetic about any parenting needs that might occur in the future. Whether I was full time or part time.

My Maternity Pay was poor compared to everyone else I know. I was given 6 weeks at 90% my normal salary and have had SMP since. My SMP ends in April 2013 and is currently paid into my account through my work, as that's what I was advised to do. If I hand in my resignation, what will happen to my SMP? Do I need to reapply?! How does it work?

Also, I just wanted to ask, where do I stand considering my treatment during my pregnancy and since?

MASSIVE post, so MASSIVE apologies. Feels good to have gotten it off my chest though! wink

If you've read the long version, THANK YOU!

Hope someone can help?

Thanking you! xxx

FeersumEndjinn Fri 09-Nov-12 19:08:06


Sorry to hear how awful they have been.

Firstly to put your mind at rest they definitely can't make you repay anything - they have only given you the legal minimum and you get to keep that no matter what happens. Employers who are more generous than the legal minimum are entitled to ask for the extra back if you don't return but that doesn't apply in your case.

I'm not a legal professional but it sounds to me as if you could have a case against them for sexual discrimination and constructive dismissal. However, if it was me I would shake their dust off my shoes and be glad not to have to see such horrible people ever again. Taking legal action would not make them into nice people to work with so it wouldn't really achieve that much.

thereinmadnesslies Fri 09-Nov-12 19:14:24

It sounds like you have been treated terribly sad

What outcome do you want? Do you (understandly) want to leave, or is there part of you that would like to go back?

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 09-Nov-12 21:09:07

Firstly you have the statutory minimum this is very very common. Anyway who gets more is lucky.
As other poster said what do you want? I was treated badly boss acted like his world had ended when told him I was pregnant passed over for pay rise no contact on maternity leave. However, I stuck it out as I could see where the future was going and now I own the business. I am afraid whilst I would live to pay more than SMP in this climate business can't afford it. However, staff are treated fairly when pregnant and on maternity leave.

Xenia Fri 09-Nov-12 21:48:17

I took two weeks off to have my 5 babies and had no trouble with employers but then I was never ill so it caused no issues.
I certainly recommend going back before the 6 weeks is up but that's obviously your own decision. As you are just being paid SMP I would get back ASAP.

Most companies want good workers. I was just as good, after having babies as before so never had problems. Just go back and be brilliant. No one wants to lose a good worker. If you don't like it when you are back set up on your own and out earn the lot of them. Work and life should be fun

hairytale Fri 09-Nov-12 22:32:03

1. SMP is the norm
2. If the company does 't take you back in your own role after 6 moths maternity leave, or an equivalent role after any more than 6 months, they are breaking the law
3. I'm a bit shock at Xenia's suggestion that two or six weeks is in any way normal - it's extremely unusual for women to take such short maternity leave!

Xenia Sat 10-Nov-12 07:26:07

Well perhaps we need to pause and think about that. A good few women do go back very quickly, even in the public arena - Dati - 2 days, Sarah Palin etc etc Has it become uncomfortable to know they have? Does it cause people to criticise them? Does that illustrate sexism? Are women finding that if they do make that choice it is harder these days to take it and that the fact others have been taking so long off has had a negative result - that their careers are harmed much more than a few weeks off and that their husbands see them as the one to do nappy changing who is better with the baby whereas if yo get back right away you have a much happier, fairer life at home and work goes very well too?

Bilbobagginstummy Sat 10-Nov-12 09:57:39

MarternalMusings - I don't know the answers to your questions about the maternity provisions but I am shock at your getting that email. How upsetting for you.

Will you be going back to work anyway?
Were your plans to go back to that company? Is it big enough that you could get another post in the same organisation.

Hope someone comes along who can help you more.

nextphase Sat 10-Nov-12 10:20:20

don't hand your notice in yet. You are still accruing holiday, redundancy (and possibly pension) rights.
If you don't want to return, hand in your notice whatever your notice period is before you are due to return, and ask for accrued holiday and bank holiday pay to be added to your final payslip.

You need to be careful about keeping in touch with people on ML (and sick leave), as it can be classed as harassment if they keep contacting you.

Its your choice about looking into submitting a grievance, but having seen someone go through it, unless you have a fairly accurate timeline and copies of incriminating e-mails, I suspect it would be quite hard.

Hope you start feeling more positive soon

Bilbobagginstummy Sat 10-Nov-12 10:27:33

Surely there's a difference between harassment and no contact whatsoever?! That's just inhuman.

Smoothingiron Sun 11-Nov-12 07:29:37

You need to speak to your HR Manager ASAP. This sounds dreadful and should not happen to a pregnant woman/new mum. I am an HR Director and would never knowlingly let this happen in my company. If it comes to it, you could claim unfair (constructive dismissal) and possible sex discrimination, but the first point of call should be for you to raise the issue informally through normal company procedures and ask them what they are ging to do about the problem. Only make it more formal (ie a grievance) if this doesn't work or isn't resolved satisfactorily.
In relation to your mat pay, this is the statutory minimum, so nothing you can do about that. You are entitled to up to a year off work, though, so not sure why you feel you should go back so soon? Good luck

cupcakeandtea Sun 11-Nov-12 14:29:03

Maternal, your experience really resonates with me as I went through something similar with my first DC three years ago. It wasn't as extreme but nevertheless was very upsetting.

I'd worked for an international publishing company for 10 years when I fell pregnant with my DS. The minute I told my arse of a boss he turned on me. He was on my back throughout mywhole pregnancy and despite the fact I had a great relationship with his immediate managers, I decided not to make an official complaint.

He made my whole pregnancy very traumatic and at the advice of my MW, I left a few weeks earlier than planned for ML as my blood pressure was sky high. On the day I left, he didn't say a word to me and it was left to his manager to give me a farewell speech etc.

Three weeks after the birth of my DS, my arsey manager contacted me over some very minor misdeamenor, which completely threw me and caused weeks of upset. There I was a new mum with a tiny baby and he decided that was an appropriate time to contact me over a tiny mistake I had made that was very easily rectified.

Now, I decided not to go back for a variety of reasons..I was bored of the job, it was a very young company and a 50 hour week was normal and I wanted to go part time, which probably wouldn't have happened. However, and I'm only saying this from bitter experience, think long and hard about resigning because it has taken three years to find another job that suits me and it's no way on the same pay level I was on before (£40k).

It is very, very difficult to find a part-time job that pays reasonably well (presuming you want to go part time) and ticks all the other boxes you'll undoubtedly be looking for. There are countless very experienced, professional women after the same job and competition is fierce.

But if they were total shits to you when you were pregnant, I doubt it's going to get any better and you'll need some flexibility with a young child (ie illness, doctors appointments).

Could you look into voluntary redundancy so at least you'll have some money to fall back on?

I really do feel for you. It's something that's cast a black cloud over such a precious time and is so unnecessary.

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