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Work reluctant to help during pregancy

(12 Posts)
Graham1982 Sat 09-Jan-16 14:09:14

Hi everyone,

First time posting in here so please be kind! I'm basically looking for some advice to try and help my partner with some problems she is having at work with her managers. It's quite a long story but I will try and keep it as short and concise as I can.

My Partner is now 6 months pregnant and works in a Bistro which is part of a busy local department store. She informed work about her pregnancy early on so they could perform a risk assessment and be prepared that in a few months she would struggle to complete some of the tasks expected of her. These tasks include heavy lifting of milk crates, carrying trays up and down stairs, loading and unloading a large dishwasher and being on her feet all day with one short break. This isn't our first child and in the past this has just been a run of the mill thing and dealt with without any problems or even thinking twice about it.

A few months down the line and nothing changed. She suffered with quite bad morning sickness and despite only having one (unpaid) day off due to the sickness battled into work and carried on as best as she could. Of course on quite a few occasions she was a little late, just 10 to 15 mins here or there. She got pulled up on this and whilst explaining the reason was morning sickness her work proceeded to dock her pay. We thought that was a little harsh at the time but she didn't want to create a problem so went with it.

A little further into pregnancy and she started suffering with swollen feet. At the Bistro they have a strict policy on formal footware which of course isn't really an option when your feet suddenly expand into painful balloons. Despite other members of staff who are male wearing black trainers and not being reprimanded, my partners manager thought the best thing to do would be to tell her off and force her to squeeze her feet into the uncomfortable and painful shoes.

At this point I was getting a little annoyed because to me that isn't okay but once again my partner went along with it despite being a little upset about it at the time.

In the past month and half she been so exhausted from the lifting and general overworking of her body she has had to take a week off work on two occasions. Again this is unpaid.

On the first occasion she saw the doctor and midwife who gave her a note and explained how her work should have implemented the option of a few extra breaks, a chair to sit on and support for her to complete her daily jobs to high standard.

On taking this into work she was told by her boss "this is why we don't like employing women of childbearing age" and her other boss said he "didn't want anything to do with it because he hasn't had a pregnant employee before and didn't know what to do".

Again nothing changed and after a few weeks of coming home in tears, looking pale and feeling utterly exhausted she had to have the second unpaid week off. Again a note from the doctor and this time someone in HR promised things would change. A chair for the odd sit down in quieter periods and the promise of there being other staff members to help with the lifting and other strenuous tasks was made.

On returning to work nothing has changed apart from now one of her bosses is now giving her the cold shoulder and flat out ignores her and will only speak to her if he absolutly has to. If she asks for break or says she can't do something she is made to feel like she just complaining and hormonal. They have now put her on the closing shift indefinitely and told her no other shift exists for her. Other members of staff are being put on rotas (like my partner was until recently) where they work 9.30 until 4. This was ideal because we already have two children and she could collect them from after school club or a friend and familys house on her way home. I would step in but I don't get home from work until 6.30pm.

My partner wants to work she just needs a little help, but she can still perform many of the tasks she is expected to perform to an excellent standard. She enjoys, well enjoyed her job, and it's heartbreaking to see someone I love who is usually such a bright and vibrant person, constantly looking so down and dejected. I want to help but I just don't know what to do for the best, I have tried emailing her work (with her permission) but they have ignored it.

To add insult to injury they are now trying to get her to take early maternity leave because she is struggling at work so much. It's like they don't want her there and she feels like a burden.

It so new to us, usually employers have been brilliant. We really aren't looking for a free ride, just a bit of support for her at work but they seem so unwilling.

Has anyone experienced anything like this?

What is the best course of action because she is so unhappy?

Thanks in advance for any advice, sorry for a very long first post but in all honestly it's just the tip of the iceberg!


StealthPolarBear Sat 09-Jan-16 14:14:19

I'd say this is textbook discrimination. How she chooses to proceed depends on what she wants.
You say this isn't your first child - was she working elsewhere with the others?

SaltySeaBird Sat 09-Jan-16 14:14:25

I'm not best placed to advise apart from to say good luck and hope things improve.

Unfortunately whatever laws are in place, employers can and do treat pregnant women like shit.

This is my second pregnancy, with a different employer to the first and both have been awful, broken several employment laws and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, I can do about it.

Graham1982 Sat 09-Jan-16 14:18:46

Hi yes she was working elsewhere when carrying the others and they were very helpful and gave her the opportunity to do her job with a few breaks. Basically they used common sense to get the most out of her. Is there anywhere I can find the laws and have a good read and see if I can get through to them that way?

If it was up to me this would all be going on their facebook wall under their post about a mothers day meal but my partner is reluctant for me to do that as she doesn't want to cause any trouble.

Mermaid36 Sat 09-Jan-16 14:23:43

Can ACAS help? They have a free helpline - it might be worth giving them a call

YouBastardSockBalls Sat 09-Jan-16 14:25:13

It's discrimination. Go see a solicitor for some free initial advice.

Graham1982 Sat 09-Jan-16 14:34:38

I hadn't heard of ACAS but after a quick Google they might be able to help or at least advise. I'll call them on Monday thank you.

As for solicitor, I've thought about that but wanted to try and resolve it without going that far. It's an option though if they carry on the way they are doing

Boosiehs Sat 09-Jan-16 15:00:09

Work grievance procedure would be first port of call.

Then if not resolved ACAS will do a conciliation process.

On the face of it clear discrimination but we don't have all the facts.

Good luck. They sound like absolute wankers.

29redshoes Sat 09-Jan-16 15:02:37

That sounds terrible, I'm sorry your partner is being treated like this. Please do follow up with ACAS, it's completely unacceptable for your partner's employer to behave in this way.

I don't think they can legally force her to take maternity leave earlier than she wants to, unless she takes any sick leave at 36 weeks or later. Of course that doesn't mean they won't try and bully her into it anyway.

kickassangel Sat 09-Jan-16 15:06:52

If there's an HR dept separate from the immediate bosses, can she ask to speak to them? They work for the business, not her, but they won't want to see a lawsuit for discrimination. As they said that things would change and they haven't, then they may well step in.

She should put together a list of all the things (no risk assessment, no rota, not speaking, no chair, why they don't want to employ women her age etc etc) and present them to HR, then ask what/if they can do to prevent this discrimination from continuing.

I'm NOT anything to do with employment law, but there seem to be some very clear instances of her being discriminated against.

Graham1982 Sat 09-Jan-16 15:22:53

I think by emailing them I was hoping some work grievance procedure would be in acted but so far still nothing, I might see if there is a more formal route she can take with it. Thanks again for the advice from everyone

Graham1982 Sat 09-Jan-16 15:26:52

Thanks again for more advice, I can't seem to reply quick enough. I have been trying to get in contact with hr because they were the ones who said things will be put in place. I'll try and get her to get a contact number for them and then hopefully speak to them and send them the email again where the problems have been listed.

So many good ideas from you all thanks again! It's nice to know we aren't the only ones who think they are being out of line!

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