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Advice needed: balancing pregnancy with full time contractor work

(12 Posts)
ItsAlwaysBetterOnHoliday Thu 21-Nov-13 19:01:47

Posted this on one of the pregnancy threads but hoping someone here might be able to advise too.

I've recently become self employed and have been working as a contractor for one org for the last six weeks, working in their office. However, about four weeks into the contract I discovered I was pregnant.

My booking in appointment is for 6 Dec, which is the last day of this contract. I've already had to book time away from the office tomorrow because of needing an early scan and they weren't exactly pleased - I've been working late this week and last to make up the hours.

I phoned the hospital to change the date (the letter said you could) and they said the next available slot I could move to was in Jan, after my 12 week scan (which the hospital won't let you do).

If everything's ok at tomorrow's scan I think I'm going to have to tell my client why I'll need to work a half day on the 6th, but I'd rather not say anything at this stage as I'm only six weeks.

I start full time at another (longer term, about 5 months) contract on the 9th, so it's going to be difficult there too, although I think they are happy for people to work from home fairly often.

This maybe wasn't the best year to become self-employed... I miss just being able to ask for annual leave!

How do other freelancers handle needing regular time off due to pregnancy? And when do you come clean to clients (without pissing them off!)?

Alanna1 Thu 21-Nov-13 19:06:20

Depending on where you are you can get a private scan for c£100-£150. You can also put a lot of pressure on the hospital. I was "overbooked" twice when the clinic was too full, after I explained the constraints. Some hospitals also offer saturday appointments but only offer them if you are low risk.

ItsAlwaysBetterOnHoliday Thu 21-Nov-13 19:09:44

Thanks! The 12 week scan date is fine, it's the booking in that's the problem. I will just argue my case with the hospital.

I can't afford a private scan at the moment, but it's worth bearing in mind for the future.

Talkinpeace Thu 21-Nov-13 22:00:28

sounds to me like you are not really self employed at all if they are getting funny about your time keeping

if you are a contractor they are paying you to do a job, not have your bum on a chair for a certain number of hours

invite them to either cough up ERS NI or accept that you are your own boss now

ItsAlwaysBetterOnHoliday Thu 21-Nov-13 22:43:14

Fair point. Will bear that in mind!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 21-Nov-13 23:15:38

Congrats on the pregnancy and going freelance.

Think as you say, with the current client you just need to be honest in order to secure the half-day at the end of the contract. Could you offer to do half a day at the weekend or do the additional hours before?

If it is planned in advance (which is obviously easier with an non-urgent scan) they might be less annoyed etc. I am guessing you want them for a reference?

As to the next contract. What are the terms? Do they really expect you to work 5 months without a break?

When I have worked on long term contracts I have booked "holiday" the same as other staff, but they just didn't pay me.

I also worked on the understanding that I'll be flexible with them (additonal hours/different days) if they can return the favour (allowing me to swop days, take a longer lunch break) so I can do other work etc (all my contracts were pt).

I think if I were you I'd contact the next client to clarify how you book time off (if you haven't already) and book in any appts you know about mentioning "other commitments" and leave the rest until you join.

I know they shouldn't withdraw the contract because of your pregnancy....but I'd be cautious and leave it as late as you can.

Good luck.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 21-Nov-13 23:16:28

And all the best at the scan. thanks

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 21-Nov-13 23:24:52

One last thing. It does take a while to get your mind into freelancer mode. Or that is what I found.

Your pregnancy shouldn't effect them at all (assuming you are well enough) aside from time off. They are your client, you plan to deliver 5 months of work.

Hopefully they'll be compassionate but they won't be as interested/involved in your pregnancy as they would be with a staff member. That can feel a little strange.

I'd leave telling them until you have to.

ItsAlwaysBetterOnHoliday Fri 22-Nov-13 05:33:28

Thanks! That's all very helpful. I think it's just a case of me getting my head round the fact I'm in charge of my time.

As far as I know, the second place is just a case of booking 'holiday' when needed (they have a lot of contracted/agency staff). I think they're possibly more used to dealing with contractors than the other place, who basically bring people in as an extra pair of hands when needed.

My instinct was to leave telling them till as late as possible (especially as I've already been told there's usually the chance of being offered more work and I'm hoping to save as much as possible before 'maternity leave').

Thanks again. Nervous about the scan but hoping for the best.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Fri 22-Nov-13 18:11:53

Hope your scan was ok OP.

ItsAlwaysBetterOnHoliday Fri 22-Nov-13 18:29:33

Thanks - good news on both fronts. We saw a heartbeat and the hospital have let me move the appointment - I think being there in person helped!

Thanks for all your help.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Fri 22-Nov-13 20:31:49

Awww fab!

Enjoy a restful brew .

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