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1st baby, 1st job in hospitality - please help

(31 Posts)
Mrsmkat Thu 24-Jan-13 21:56:12

Hello mumsnetters, I hope you can help me. This is my first post on here so I apologise in advance for not following any required MN etiquette.

I am a chartered accountant who career changed last year. I spent a year full time at culinary school in 2012 and finished my qualification at the end of the year. I have just started (about 2 weeks ago) a new job as a pastry chef. I am also approx 14 weeks pregnant.

As this is my first baby and my first job in a food career I just have a couple of queries.

My new employer is great, I took the job as I like the work (good commute, cuisine I like and freedom for me to run the pastry section as I see fit) but it's a small team (3 chefs and it's very hands on). I went for an unpaid trial (standard) and they offered me the job on the spot. I was 11 weeks pregnant then. I was meant to have my 12 week scan the next week. It then took a little while to agree a start date so I started the job the same week as my 12 week scan (I was actually 13 weeks along by then). The day after I had the 12 week scan I asked to speak to my employer (my 2nd day at work) but he was busy and fobbed me off (he tends to do that quite a bit) and he only spoke to me when I insisted the next day. I told him that I was pregnant and I wanted to declare this up front as being such a small team I needed him to think seriously about how this would / would not work for him and/or his business (baby due July) before we went any further.

His reaction wasn't exactly positive - but he did congratulate me at the end of the working day. I put his awkward reaction down to shock maybe.

Anyway that was about a week ago. I have since worked every single day and clocked up about 60 hours of labour. I asked about paperwork and getting an employment contract set up and he was very casual about it - I asked again middle of last week and he said he would get round to it. I can't help but think he is dragging his feet as he doesn't know what to do about my pregnancy.

I then had another chat with him saying that while I understand we are allowed to eat anything from the kitchen as a lunch meal, I would like to bring in my own food (salads, fruit etc) from time to time as I need to graze during the day ((due to "morning" (which is really "all day")sickness)) and so I might have a quick snack (literally 2 minutes) in between doing one task and the next. I explained this was also because I have gone off quite a lot of food and don't always fancy the daily soup / hot pot / sandwich of the day served where I work.

I also had to mention that I would need to take an actual break at lunch (this is not standard - the other chefs, all male, barely eat, take no breaks other than multiple fag breaks and eat standing up) but I do really need a sit down half way through the day and I had to ask for a chair.

I am not very familiar with the law (not UK born) and have always worked in very corporate ie EXTREMELY compliant, formal enviroments where one would never start work without a signed contract, payroll forms completed, etc etc

It is starting to worry me (the dodging the contract bit), the not knowing my actual rights in this industry and honestly whether I can work these sorts of hours in that envronment while carrying my little one. Sorry to ramble. My questions are:

Is it unreasonable to request a proper break (ie half an hour - SAT DOWN - , actual break) when working a shift that is 7am to 5pm (this is standard) even though no one else seems to take one?

Is it unreasonable to push and insist on a formal employment contract / confirmation? I have already clocked up 60 hours with not even 1 form or paper filled filled - I am worried about making a fuss until they at least pay me (mid Feb pay date) because right now, legally, I think they could actually not pay me if I leave /if we fall out.

How do ante natal appointments work? When I asked the head chef about this he said he would schedule my days off on those days. I read that I am entitled to paid time off for them - is that the same as having my days off as well? That said, I am not sure if my days off are paid or unpaid as I have no contract? Do I have to take those appointment as my days off? That means I will never have a weekend off in the next 6 months as obv there are no ante natal appointments over weekends. A man would never be in that position so is that fair?

Please help any legal eagles / employment or HR experts / hospitality careeer veterans.

Thanks so much. Sorry for the length!

Letmeintroducemyself Sun 27-Jan-13 18:36:34

any post loses credibility in my eyes when it resorts to offensive language to make its point

and of course I did reveal my own pregnancy to potential employers so practiced what I preached so to speak

AmandaCooper Mon 28-Jan-13 14:31:07

So you went out on a limb and offered that information notwithstanding the provisions enacted by statute to protect you from having to do so. You are fortunate to be able to do that. It would not have been deceitful or underhand to do otherwise if your circumstances were different. I can see why OP was upset to have her trustworthiness called into question - particularly as she probably feels uncomfortable about the whole business anyway - but I do take your point about resorting to offensive language.

boxoftricks Mon 28-Jan-13 14:51:33

Hi OP, You are legally entitled to a break if your work more than 6 hours, yes. However this is to be given when the employer sees fit. Working in the industry you in, it is unlikely you would be able to get a break during service times, eg lunch/dinner. It would need to be fitted in at down times, or around prep times. I run a gastro pub, and have had pregnant chefs in the past. Chances are your shifts would be able to be arranged around your appointments if you would like. It's a bit different if you can only work 9-5 in an office I guess.
Finding chefs is a pain in the ass. REALLY. So your employer is probably thinking 'brilliant, 6 months and I've got to do this all over again'
You are entitled to a statement of employment within a 6 week period (I think, off the top of my head!)
PESTER for a contract. Have you got a 4 week 'trial period'? This is pretty standard. It means that your job can be terminated with immediate effect by either party throughout that 4 week period if either party feels its not working out. Your employer is then also probably going to be shitting bricks, as if they see that something is not working out, for instance, your work is not up to scratch, and they need to give you notice, then they are probably scared you are going to think they've got rid of you because you're pregnant.
Your employer should also be carrying out risk assessments to see if reasonable adjustments can be made. But if you are not able to carry out your job properly with these in place, then this is something that needs to be discussed.

Mrsmkat Fri 01-Feb-13 07:53:06

Thank you Amanda.

Cn/letmeintroduce- you make baseless judgements with little or no information. What does that show about you?

And FYI i have zero interest in using your career trajectory as a template for mine and it shows how arrogant you are to assume anyone would!

ExpatAl Fri 01-Feb-13 08:46:47

I can't stand all this talk of it being morally wrong to take a job in a small company when you're pregnant. It's misogynistic rubbish.

Mrsmkat you've picked a tough industry to be pregnant in but I guess you know that. He will probably drag his feet in giving you a contract forever but if you're just looking for experience, continue doing your own thing with sitting down, snacks etc and do it for as long as you can. Good luck.

Mrsmkat Tue 05-Feb-13 16:13:52

Thanks ExpatAl and to all the people who have made suggestions about it being a negotiation etc. I have had all my ante natal appointments and doc's visits etc as my day off, I don't sit down in the middle of lunch service or any other obviously pressurised times and I have been managing well so far without making it a drama for either myself or my 2 colleagues. I'll keep trying to do that. So far so good and thanks for all the useful advice.

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