Coworker is radioactive and I'm secretly PG

(45 Posts)
Cynthesizer Wed 06-Jul-16 20:05:19

Hello all,

I am 12 weeks pregnant, awaiting my first scan. For serious reasons I do not want my pregnancy to "go public" until the end of the month - so don't tell anybody!

A coworker who has had radioactive iodine just sent an email to the entire company stating that he is returning to work next week unless there are any secretly pregnant women ("lol not that there are, right?") we are an informal company so the tone was light and jokey smile there has already been some banter in the thread about "of COURSE no one is!" And men joking that they are PG and he should stay away!

He is quite radioactive and has been advised not to come into contact with PG women, babies etc, and not to take public transport or pick up his cat. I don't know for how long he is expecting to be at this level of radioactivity, and I fear that asking will out me as the secretly PG woman!

I broke cover and spoke privately to my manager who was incredibly ecstatic and delighted about the pregnancy, but she doesn't know how I/she could keep my officemate away from the office without revealing my pregnancy, which I certainly don't want to do before the end of July.

Any clever thoughts? I know the informality of the situation is a nightmare - imagine sending an email to the whole company asking if anyone wanted to speak up about something they're clearly keeping quiet! - but we are an informal bunch who get along well.

So far the best solutions we've had are for the manager to tell the boss to put the kibosh on him coming back because SOMEONE is PG, or for me to suddenly affect a sprained ankle for a few days, neither of which are quite satisfactory....

Hamsolo Wed 06-Jul-16 20:10:08

I love your title. Sounds like the start of a comic.

You might be over thinking it. To me, either of the solutions sound absolutely fine. I'd go with your boss saying that he can't come back because someone has a medical condition that means he would put them at risk. He doesn't have to say pregnant, and he definitely doesn't have to say it's you.

Congratulations by the way!

Somerville Wed 06-Jul-16 20:11:33

Surely he shouldn't return to work, since a lot of women don't know they are pregnant at the very early stages?

HR should be doing a proper risk assessment - the whole way they're doing this is very unprofessional.

And frankly, how to deal with this is your manager's problem, not yours.

ChaChaChaCh4nges Wed 06-Jul-16 20:11:55

Exactly what Hamsolo said.

Floggingmolly Wed 06-Jul-16 20:12:34

He's not supposed to use public transport or pick up his cat (!), but he's allowed to come back into the workplace?
That can't be right hmm

OurBlanche Wed 06-Jul-16 20:14:27

As Somerville said, too. There may be women who are pregnant and just don't know yet.

They need to do a risk assessment and say no... maybe he can do some work from home, in a different location. But he can't come back to work in your office!

HR will/should have a plan to cover this. Pass it to them!

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 06-Jul-16 20:15:25

I was allowed back to work whilst radioactive but only after I'd been tested to assess I was "safe" - at that point I could use public transport and just had to tell people who I had regular physical or close contact with.

If he hasn't had the all clear to be in public yet, he shouldn't be allowed back in the office - that comes after! So your boss could just veto on those grounds, or say a health condition as suggested above.

Congratulations!

LilyandGinger Wed 06-Jul-16 20:16:27

My DH had radioactive iodine. He needed to maintain a one meter distance from me (ie sleep separately and no hugs) and work from home for one week only.

Why not ask your midwife for advice?

Twgtwf Wed 06-Jul-16 20:18:08

I agree with Somerville. I think the medics are not as responsible as they should be when advising on this - people often don't know what exactly to do wrt young children.

He really should stay away from work. Don't get palmed off yourself with just trying to work with him at arm's length or anything daft like that.

Optimist1 Wed 06-Jul-16 20:18:34

Your manager should tell your colleague that the company's duty of care extends to women who were only just pregnant (and possibly ignorant of the fact) as well as those who are keeping a secret about their pregnancy so in the interests of everyone he can't come back till his readings are normal.

iMatter Wed 06-Jul-16 20:19:35

He can't come back to work.

It's up to your employer to manage that, whether working from home or whatever but the simple fact is he can't come back to work.

If he does then you need to stay away.

NerrSnerr Wed 06-Jul-16 20:21:49

Can you tell people you're ttc? That could work and would fit in when the pregnancy news comes out?

Specialagentblond Wed 06-Jul-16 20:26:20

I agree with PP, universal precautions should be taken, and all women of child bearing age should be assumed to be pregnant, therefore I'm afraid he really should stay away x It's the safest option x

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 06-Jul-16 20:26:56

They should stop him coming back in case anyone is pregnant. Now they know you are they should do a risk assessment for you too.

Cynthesizer Wed 06-Jul-16 20:35:38

Glad to hear I'm not being unreasonable, I was worried.

To clarify, we have no HR department and no one is responsible for this sort of thing - hence emails to the entire company going "nobody's knocked up right" - gah! Like anyone would reply-all saying "yeah lol" !!! Great place to work and I love them all but seriously!!

The public transport thing is because you can't control whether small children, PG/breast feeding or radiosensitive people will be near you. That's fairly normal, you can't reasonably control who is around you in public.

The way he phrases it, his doctors have told him that he can go back to work IF nobody is pregnant or breastfeeding, and being a nice young man in his early 20s he thought "oh that's fine then." he is clearly assuming that a global whatsapp message goes out the second someone gets a posi PG test, or something! ;) bless, I can't even be mad!

"Not touching pets" is because pets have such small bodies that a small dose of radiation (safe for an adult human) can be a lethal amount, after all you have to remember that a cat weighs only a few KG.

I do know enough about radiation (having worked with it) to know that he would be well within reason to come back to work at this stage IF NO ONE IN THE OFFICE WAS PG.

Manager can get Big Boss to say "no" to him coming back, I think saying "someone" is PG will be enough (though I will be the prime suspect!)

CMOTDibbler Wed 06-Jul-16 20:38:32

I'm guessing he has either had radioiodine treatment for thyroid cancer or an overactive thyroid, or has had an iodine seed implant for prostate cancer.

In either case, you'll be fine as long as you don't have close (sitting right next to, like you would on a bus seat), prolonged (more than a couple of minutes a day) contact with him. So as long as you don't sit right next to him, you'll be fine. You only need to keep your distance (a metre or so) for 3 weeks from the treatment.

There is no need to panic, and normally people go back to work after a week unless they would normally be in close, prolonged contact with children or pregnant women

bakingaddict Wed 06-Jul-16 20:40:10

I think your boss should give you paid special leave or gardening leave if his return to work is a risk to you

TheSpottedZebra Wed 06-Jul-16 20:40:19

Can he work from home?

Work could say that a) they can't be responsible for the risk to anyone who doesn't know that they are not pregnant in the office, and b) on the journey, and that to compel or allow him to come to work when he is radioactive creates a liability.

Also, does he see clients, cleaners, canteen staff, is there a communal lift, etc etc etc...

They don't need to say that someone IS pregnant, although he may twig later on?

AyeAmarok Wed 06-Jul-16 20:41:07

You're being way too relaxed about this.

Your employer has a duty of care to their employees to not put them (or members of the public) at risk.

They are doing. It's entirely foreseeable that someone could be pregnant and they invite a radioactive person into the office?

That's fucking stupid and not a laughing matter.

Your manager needs to tell him that he has to work from home.

TheSpottedZebra Wed 06-Jul-16 20:42:04

And of course - YOU don't need to come up with the solution or the cover story.
You've confided that you're pregnant and that you don't want the news out.

The managers need to figure out the rest.

froubylou Wed 06-Jul-16 20:45:23

I would just take a few days off paid! Just invent a minor illness until he is clear. Kick back, enjoy the sunshine (hopefully) and potter around.

Could you suggest that. Cos I bloody would!

Somerville Wed 06-Jul-16 20:46:56

Even in a small business without an HR department, someone will be responsible for health and safety and risk assessments. Whoever this is needs to be dealing with the whole thing. Whether anyone is actually pregnant or otherwise vulnerable isn't the point. Whether there is someone who could be, is the point. As is how closely anyone would need to be to him for it to be an issue.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 06-Jul-16 20:48:44

I suppose it does depend on your work, but meetings, lunch etc are often times when you are sitting close to someone for 1/2 hour plus and he would need to avoid all women of childbearing age in those situations.

eurochick Wed 06-Jul-16 20:51:55

Your manager needs to manage this and tell him that he can't come back. He/she doesn't need to say why.

Purplehonesty Wed 06-Jul-16 20:54:51

If he comes back, you take a week off work - that's reasonable surely. Or he does.

It's him or you in the office - don't be talked into taking any risks

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