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Am I being a doormat about my long commute?

(12 Posts)
u32ng Tue 04-Dec-12 13:55:51

To try and cut a (very) long story short, since my job was moved last December I have a 160 mile round trip commute to & from work. It's about 2.5hrs each way on bus & train so I'm out of the house for 12/13hrs a day. (5.30am alarm call - yuk!!)

The commute is a bad work/life balance at the best of times but I'm now 32 weeks pregnant and I'm getting to the point where I don't feel this is perhaps best for me.

The biggest issue is work: they haven't been very forthcoming with support towards me or offered me any help to make things easier (like being able to work from one of our local offices which would reduce my commute to 18 miles each way! Or reduced hrs). When I have midwife appointments I am still expected to make the journey to work (for the sake of 4hrs) when I could get more hrs done seeing out the rest of the day at the local office. I have specifically asked to be allowed to work locally in January (I am due at the end of Jan), but have still yet to hear from my boss 3wks later. Sadly finances don't allow me to just go off on maternity leave at Xmas!

I know I'm pregnant & not an invalid, but am I being a doormat by not speaking up for my welfare? Or do I just have to suck it up?? I've no idea if from a H&S point of view whether work ought to be doing more to consider my wellbeing either.

Any advice would be appreciated, especially if anyone's been in a similar situation!

HazleNutt Tue 04-Dec-12 14:08:19

Unless there is a particular reason why you should work from the head office and not from any of the closer ones, they are being very unreasonable to expect such a long commute, pregnancy or not! Yes, of course you should speak up - surely you're also more useful in the local office than after 5.30 start and 2,5h commute - I would just be sleeping on my desk..

rrreow Tue 04-Dec-12 14:16:17

Wow yes I definitely think it wouldn't be unreasonable to raise this with your work, especially as you're getting to the latter (and more uncomfortable) stages of your pregnancy. Perhaps you could get some backup from your GP/midwife to help your case if your boss seems reluctant to respond / do something. Definitely propose solutions (local office, working from home etc) when you raise the issue. When you are pregnant an employer is supposed to do a risk assessment of your current job and make changes as necessary.

Definitely speak up for yourself! I think a 5 hour commute on public transport sounds like a nightmare for anyone not pregnant, but while pregnant it definitely strikes me as insaneunreasonable. Good luck!

helpyourself Tue 04-Dec-12 14:18:56

Sounds grim. You mention local offices- is it a large organisation? Might be worth going up a level in your request?

BonaDea Tue 04-Dec-12 15:50:05

I'm an employer lawyer. Your employer is being completely unreasonable. They have an enhanced duty of care towards you now that you are pregnant. They ought to have done a health and safety risk assessment when you told them you were pregnant, but that duty is on-going and should be reviewed by them during your pregnancy. Expecting someone to do that commute when there are alternative options is crazy (why are they being such prats?!)

You have a couple of options (or a combination):

1. Get your midwife or GP to write you a letter stating that, whilst you are perfectly fit for work, your wellbeing is being impacted by the commute and they suggest it would be an appropriate accomodation for you to work at a local office until you start mat leave.

2. Escalate beyond your own manager to HR or your manager's manager - initially by having an informal chat (usually the best way to start) but if necessary by raising a grievance.

Wherever possible, it is better not to get to heavy handed too soon, so I would leave a grievance as the last resort. However you do have a right to be treated fairly and reasonably and you have to make yourself heard.

You are not a doormat, FOAD. Good luck!

u32ng Tue 04-Dec-12 16:42:13

Thanks for all the advice so far! "Prats" are a kind way to describe my employer! Their handling of everything (not just my pregnancy) gives new meaning to the word incompetence.

I have a midwife/doc appointment on thu morning so I will definitely see about some sort of fit to work letter. I may have been doormat-ish up to now but I really feel strongly about Jan (especially with prospect of winter weather) so if they come back and say no to my local working request I may well go all fire-breathing dragon on them haha!

I did get a risk assessment done by my (largely innefectual) but it was aaages ago & hasn't been revisited. The commute wasn't included(!).

My husband has been spitting nails about this for weeks and weeks. Time to get assertive it seems!

newby2 Tue 04-Dec-12 16:58:56

u32ng-

A big word of caution. Your body is telling you it's under too much strain. You know it, else you wouldn't be posting on here. With DD1 I worked silly hours and had a 1.5 hour commute each way, working on my feet as a nurse 12.5 hour days. I used to think "Well women have 6 kids and perfectly healthy babies with all that work" But the strains of going to work are different.

I ended up with pre-eclampsia and a premature poorly baby and nearly losing my life too.

Not to say this will happen to you but I;m just about to have 2nd baby and no signs of pre-eclampsia at 38 weeks and have done the BARE minimum.

It's not worth it- get yourself signed off by the GP, go back to work in a couple of weeks time and then commence maternity leave. You'll find a way around the finances but the repercussions of not resting when needed can be horrible!

ScubaSarah Tue 04-Dec-12 17:30:14

Hi! I moved house 3 months ago and am doing a 2.5 hour each way commute but of my own doing. I'm now 6/7 weeks and starting to wonder how this will work. I wfh one day a week and will push for more than one in 3rd tri. Is that something your place might entertain, some days in HQ and some days in local office. I find wfh mid week makes it very manageable?!
Good luck finding a solution.

u32ng Tue 04-Dec-12 18:16:42

Newby2 - yikes! That must've been an awful time for you & a good cautionary tale. My husband is always telling me to slow down as even when I'm home I'm a do-er (plus only have 3hrs to myself before bedtime!). So thanks, I'll be mindful of that.

Well thankfully with my antenatal class's starting on Wednesday for the next 3 weeks I will only be commuting 4 days as my boss has had at least one sensible thought & is letting me work locally. Hopefully a doc letter will bag me another local day - or 3..or 4...!

newby2 Tue 04-Dec-12 21:30:04

Good, that sounds better. Keep an eye on how you're feeling. That might just be the let-up you need.

I had the energy of 10 men previous to 30 weeks into my pregnancy and had no idea when to stop. Keep an eye on your blood pressure too.

Honestly the knock-on effect of not listening to my body were devastating and we still pay the price with our gorgeous DD having been premature.

No-one should be doing 2.5 hour commutes when pregnant. Especially 3rd trimester. I take BonaDea's point but that will just add more stress and by the time you head down the grievance pathway, you'll be having your baby and will have to go back to work with a bad taste in your mouth. Chose your battles wisely or just get yourself signed off.

edam Tue 04-Dec-12 21:35:22

Explain the commute to your GP or midwife and ask them to do a fit note that recommends you work at a local office. Do check out the rules and regs on going off sick - if you do this after a certain point, it triggers the start of your mat leave. I think it's not until 36 weeks but do check - it should be on the government website - gov.uk site - or you can probably find it via ACAS or the Equalities Commission (or someone on here will know...)

Chesterado Tue 04-Dec-12 21:43:54

Hi there, I also managed a big commute and a lot of travel in first two semesters but agree that at 32 weeks it's time to start slowing down.

I got a big lecture from the midwives at 34 weeks and effectively negotiated working in our local office from that point onwards. Put your foot down and get some rest, work will get over it!

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