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Signed off work for being pregnant!

(19 Posts)
Nicki10 Fri 16-Feb-07 20:36:22

I have just been signed off work for being pregnant and I'm only 9 weeks!.

I work in Stage Management and they have just signed me off work. My contract would only have lasted for another 3 weeks as all my contracts are short anyway but it is such a closely knitted industry that I will now no longer be able to work for any other company.

What am I meant to do for work now for the next 6 motnhs? Is this even legal? I am really cross and upset about this as I had a doctors note to say that I was perfectly capable of carrying on with my job but the company have now taken it out of my hands. I thought the days were gone when you were penalised for being pregnant.

tribpot Fri 16-Feb-07 20:38:24

Strikes me they have shot themselves in the foot by not simply failing to renew you in a few weeks' time - as opposed to actively signing you off at this stage.

Clearly it is barking. Are you in a Union? (I assume stage mnnagement is theatre-related?)

Nicki10 Fri 16-Feb-07 20:41:57

Yeah it is and I am in a union but the buggers spoke to my union before me so they knew this was about to happen and apparently they a completely entitled to do this.

They signed me off now as I was aout to fly out to America with work and they said I was to much of a risk! It amazes me that they think they know better than my doctor!. I also lost £600 on my DP's flights who was going to come out for a jolly!

tribpot Fri 16-Feb-07 20:44:11

The whole thing seems very unlikely, in my view. There are surely no grounds to regard you as unfit for travel at 9 weeks? You could easily not even know you were pregnant at that stage, if it comes to it. Why aren't your union being more proactive? Can you go out beyond the local shop steward?

chocolatekimmy Fri 16-Feb-07 21:49:19

Sounds dodgy to me.

Did they carry out a risk assessment? It should have been a full and thorough one assessing all areas of risk in your role. If you would be likely to be exposed to any risks (lifting, stress, long hours, fumes/chemicals, night work - many categories) that could adversly affect the health and safety of you or your unborn child they have to consider an alternative role where the risks are taken away. Its only if this isn't possible that they should suspend you on grounds of risk in pregnancy.

They do only need to carry out a risk assessement when they are informed in writing that you are pregnant.

You should be paid in full and remain an employee with same benefits etc for as long as necessary. If your contract was only for another 3 weeks then thats how long it should be for. In effect you shouldn't be any worse off.

If you are refused work by someone else because you are pregnant then thats a completely different ball game.

amidaiwish Fri 16-Feb-07 21:58:00

but are they paying you in full to the end of your contract? if so, then i can't see you have any come back.

my ex company (big US multinational) avoided employees travelling on long haul flights when pg. there is apparently a (very small) risk of miscarriage in first trimester and in 3rd trimester there's the whole cramped/DVT/early labour scenario that many company's travel insurance advise them to avoid unless the trip was absolutely necc.

amidaiwish Fri 16-Feb-07 21:58:27

btw, did you tell them you were pg?

Frizbe Fri 16-Feb-07 21:59:16

Sounds dodgy to me too, Unisarah is in a similar line of work, I'll point her your way.

Nicki10 Sat 17-Feb-07 04:36:13

Yeah I did tell them I was PG as I needed a morning off for a scan and they wanted to know why I needed time off.

They did a risk assessment and took all my lifting duties off me so I was only lifting props which are lighter than my handbag!. As part of the risk assessment I had to get a letter from my GP to say I was safe to carry out my job for the rest of the UK and US tour which I did but they still signed me off.

I am on my full wage but that's still less than I would be earning if I was doing the job as I am not getting per diems or any holiday pay.

More than anything I'm really annoyed because it's such a closely knitted industry that I will now not be able to work again in my field until after the birth which is still a long way off. I know they are not allowed to say that the reason you don't get the job is because your pregnant but they just won't give me the job. I have always just got my next contract from a link with the job before and word of mouth but that is no longer happening. I can't afford to be off work for my enitre pregnancy.

luxlife Sat 17-Feb-07 10:40:04

i guess certain fields are more risky than others, they dont want to take their chances with a pregnant woman. it is risky for them (insurance wise) to put you in long airplane trips. its a different matter if you decide to do the trip for your leisure, but for them, there is an insurance issue. you could sue them if something goes wrong with your pregnancy due the nature of your work.

i hope you find an alternative solution for your work.

UniSarah Sat 17-Feb-07 12:05:39

Its a bugger, but yes they can decide that its less hassle to suspend you on full pay rather than keep you working in an enviroment that a rosk assement surgests is unhealthy for you and your unborn child. As you only have 3 wks lefton contract its nothard to see whythey have chosen that route over changeing your role to one less risky.

Not every theatre realted job is risky tho. BUT you might have to look outside your traditional stage manager role. And you will have to learn to liev with out PD's , TMA get outs and the like as many roles don;t include those.

Ok- my background. I'm a self employed lihting designer/ technician/ rigger. In the summer i used to do a lot of festival mains and out door concert LDs. I have had 2 pregnanceys, the 1st ened in a missed miscarriage , found at the 12 wk scan.
PG1 I was doing theatre work, LD/tech etc. told one or two key people at about 8wks, worked through morning sickness, flew to germany at 9 wks felt shit, did christmas show tech week at 10wks, scan at 12wks, baby dead ( proadly from 8 or 9 wks by size). had to have D&C. Gutted, depressed etc. Had not much work lined up for spring and now not pg either and only one or two people knew what had happened.

Pg2- found out in middle of VERY busy week on 3 festivals mid summer. Did my own RA. At 5 wks Told production company boss who's imediate reaction was " oh bugger I can;t use you for rest of summer must find another elcetrian". like you I saw my income fly out the door. However- he couldn't find someone else at short notice so we worked together to modify my roles in line with RA. Only driving pneumatic tryres forklifts, not handling deisel, getting a crew bod to work with me doing lift and shift, I did LOTS of test and inspect. I continued working thro the autum, doing only 3 days a week on a lower rate and with an extra crew bod for get ins/outs as any more and I was wiped out. Did lots of PAT testing, some tech admin, some duty tech for arts centre, turned down 2 tours. Did a christmas show as LX and sound op with an extra crew bod for tech week. less money coming in, but I could manage the work and wasn't risking my or babes health.
I stopped work at 7 months as I couldn;t even manage the lifting needed for PAT testing, bump was huge. Boy born healthy at term, I love him very much , I've cherrypicked projects since his arival, light 2 shows this winter , I'm PAT testing 2 mornings a week for the arts centre and have 2 outdoor gigs lined up in July. Work seems rather less important now and we have got used to living on less money.

So what am I trying to say... Its not the end of teh world that this company won't adapt the work for 3 weeks. its more important that you don't increase your risk of misscarriage. once you get beyond the 12wk mark you might have a few months when you feel pretty good and can work almost normally. BUT you need to be realistic about what roles you can and can't fill.
Consider box office, tech admin, hire company admin, sales, production management, DSM, LX board op. it'll all depend on where you are and what oputunities there are near you. If you can get hold of the RA the company did it'll give you an idea of what was concerning them, do your own as well , its good to have up your sleve when talking to another company. be warned trying to find relevent COSHH info on some substances ( commonly found in most props workshops) takes a lot of searching.
If your self employed or between contracts you can apply for Maternity alowence from about 6month pg. BUT it only lasts 6 months so consider which 6 months you will have no other income. For me i was worth taking MA 2 months before due date as Jan and Feb are bad months for techs round here.
Good luck, hope all goes well with Pg.

luxlife Sat 17-Feb-07 13:43:36

unisarah, the increase of maternity leave to 9 months for babies born after this april doesnt include maternity allowance?

UniSarah Sat 17-Feb-07 14:16:36

not sure about MA after April, havn't looked into it, so I'm refering to situation now.

makemineaginandtonic Sun 18-Feb-07 11:50:45

I thought they had to offer you different more suitable work if your usual tasks are too dangerous to continue in a pregnant state (might be able to argue the flying was not safe?). Eg. if you were working in a factory with poisonous chemicals they couldn't just get rid of you, they'd have to find you a job doing admin or something.

Seems a bit tough to me!!

amidaiwish Sun 18-Feb-07 12:01:03

but they haven't just got rid of her, she is on full pay til the end of her contract

don't mean to sound harsh, and i do sympathise, but that is the difference between contracts and employed. you generally get more money for contracts, but don't have the employer/employee loyalty/agreement.

chocolatekimmy Sun 18-Feb-07 20:37:21

makemineaginandtonic - yes they do have to consider suitable alternative work however it may not always be possible because a, it might not exist and b, the person being moved may not have the skills to do an alternative job (say a warehouse operative being moved to an office based job).

In these circumstances the company have to suspend her.

UniSarah Sun 18-Feb-07 21:22:10

If your in London - I see in back of L&S1 mag that white light are looking for people for office based customer contact roles. Your experience in SM might be relevent.

Nicki10 Thu 22-Feb-07 10:14:50

Sorry I have been away. Thanks UniSarah that would be good but DP works for Stage Electrics so I'm not sure he'd forgive me!.

amidaiwish Stage Management is now mainly an office based job and has multiple skills so I was able to do admin as well as the physical side but the company chose not to go for this option.

Wolfgirl Thu 22-Feb-07 11:04:48

Yes thats right about being paid to the end of your CONTRACT. A contract is a contract with each party giving notice. And if they dismiss you early they must pay you. It happened to me as a contractor accept I wasnt pregnant. my contract finished early, but they paid me 4 weeks notice.

In addition I would say they are wrong in dsimissing you. I would contact the CAB and see what they say. Im very sure this is illegal, contractor or not.

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