Pregnancy and covid tier 4

(17 Posts)
M24L Mon 28-Dec-20 11:16:52

I'm currently 10 weeks pregnant and work in finance, im due to return to work on the 7th of January but schools are closed until the 18th of January at least.

I have a DD who is 8 and my work have said that I should say to the school im a key worker on order to get DD a place (I do not class myself as a key worker so I automatically don't feel comfortable doing this as it could take a space away from someone in need) I also work with somone else who has no priorities or underlying health issues and who is working from home but would be able to go into the office to work if required.

However, am I right in saying that pregnant people are classed as high risk of contracting the virus? If this is true all workers within my work who have underlying health issues I.e asthma etc have been working from home from the very first lockdown so I'm wondering should this be the case for myself?

My work returns on the 5th of January and I have until the 6th to submit this child care form in order for me to return to work on the 7th but im really not sure where I stand.

I will be able to speak to my boss on the 5th but my other worry is that she shares an office with 4 other people so there is no way I would feel comfortable sharing this new over the phone with her, with other people listening in. Would it be unprofessional to send my boss an email explaining that im pregnant and not really sure if I should be in the office or not?

The whole situation is causing me more stress than it probably should but I just don't know what to do.

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Aprilbaby21 Mon 28-Dec-20 11:22:47

Understandably you are worried but unfortunately pregnancy is not classed as high risk (unless with a heart condition but could be wrong on this)
Midwives advise to work from home as from 28 Weeks.
Other than that, im not sure there is anything you can do unless your work are willing to be flexible? Are you able to work from home at all?

That said, your work are naughty in telling you to tell them you are a key worker when you are not... and the school will know anyway.

Good luck

M24L Mon 28-Dec-20 11:28:29

@Aprilbaby21 there is scope to work from home as the person I work alongside does the exact same job as me and has been working from home since the start of the pervious lockdown. So I would be able to work from home although I think the work are wanting a certain amount of people in the office and I happen to be one of them.

This is what I feel also I really don't want to be lying about being a key worker but again I'm not sure that I can fight this one out with my work without getting into bother as they obviously know who is classed as key workers and I wouldnt say I am one. Feel like I'm stuck and have to just do as I'm told 🤷‍♀️

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Ohhgreat Mon 28-Dec-20 11:35:17

You're conflating two issues here.
Lack of childcare
Risk due to pregnancy

If you were allowed to work from home, but had no childcare, you would not be working effectively as you would have to be supervising your child too.
They are two separate issues and you should approach them separately.

Workingmama1 Mon 28-Dec-20 11:41:17

If you are in tier 4 ypu should.be working from home if possible, regardless of any health conditions.

Pregnancy puts you in the clinically vulnerable group, the same as someone with asthma or diabetes but not clinically extremely vulnerable who have been told not to go to work in tier 4.

M24L Mon 28-Dec-20 11:47:11

@Ohhgreat there is currently people who are working from home who have their child/children at home with them so there wouldn't be an issue in regards to childcare if I was to work from home. My DD is old enough to understand if i have to work and there is also sufficient breaks which would allow me to make sure my little one has her lunch etc and isn't just being ignored etc.

They are in a sense 2 separate issues but I really don't know where I would stand with either and with having only 1 day between being able to speak to my boss and the application for childcare having to be submitted I feel that I dont have much time to look into it and speak to someone.

I'm not sure what issue should be risen first and how to go about speking to my boss about it in a confidential manner.

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boymum88 Mon 28-Dec-20 11:51:39

These are the guidelines realised just before Christmas for pregnant workers (clear as mud 🤦‍♀️)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-pregnant-employees/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-pregnant-employees

I would say ask to work from home, as shouldn't be going into work if u don't have to in tier 4 anyways
They will need to do a risk assessment and should take into account that you are pregnant. ( I would send an email and ask her to call you privately)
Also it's also wrong of them to say you are a key worker if you are not, if you are they need to supply a letter that comes from
Nhs England I believe ( or mines does)

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M24L Mon 28-Dec-20 11:55:30

@Workingmama1 there is scope to be working from home but I have been working back in the office since June when they started relaxing lockdown I was in doing a few days and went back full time as soon as the schools returned.

Because there is socially distancing things in place within the workplace there is some staff members who will be in the office (who can work from home but either haven't been given the chance to do so or those who would rather be in the office)

With that being said does that mean that I should be speaking to my boss about it and seeing where things go or am I better just keeping it to myself until at least the 12 week mark and going in to work in the meantime?

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M24L Mon 28-Dec-20 12:12:22

@boymum88 thank you for that link, I had googled previously but felt that all information was conflicting.

The thing about asking for the private call is that her phone is based in the office and connected to her desk top so that would mean moving her whole desk top which I dont think she would do. I also think If i email saying I would like a private call that she would just do it in the office with other staff members there regardless as she wont know exactly what the private call will entail, she may just think it will be in regards to childcare.

In terms of the key worker I have read the list of who comes under a key worker and I honestly do not feel that I fall into any category.

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mangoandraspberries Mon 28-Dec-20 12:29:33

I think you have 2 separate issues - wanting to wfh and childcare.

I would ask for a private call with boss (she can use mobile surely, HR must ensure there is a method for employees to talk to staff in private, so speak to them if not). Advice I think is to wfh “if you can”. Sounds like no reason you can’t wfh other than boss being awkward, so I would appeal to her nice side and ask to be able to wfh as pregnant and scared of risk of Covid.

However, if I was your boss, I’d want to ensure you had childcare sorted if you were wfh. So either split it with your OH if you have one and agree flexible hours with work, get her a key worker space, family help, get a nanny etc.

mangoandraspberries Mon 28-Dec-20 12:30:14

Just realised you aren’t a key worker - ignore that bit, very cheeky of your boss and I wouldn’t feel comfortable either!

M24L Thu 07-Jan-21 13:51:59

An update of the above.

So I spoke to my boss and advised of the pregnancy who at first stated that I should be working from home and asked me to go in to pick up a laptop. Which I done, the laptop wasn't going to be ready until today so I left on a half day annual leave and called in to check what was happening yesterday evening to be told that I would need childcare before I could WFH. Other staff members working from home have their kids at home (I know as when I've called due to work related stuff you can hear young children crying etc in the back)

Anyway I checked a few friends etc who offered to help out with childcare which was really a struggle tbh.

Fast forward to this morning I went in to work had a meeting with boss who then stated "well if you have childcare there is no reason why you can't come in to the office" so now I'm confused because she said no kids at home if WFH now all of a sudden I dont need to WFH due to having child care.

So after speaking about my concerns with being in the office we came to the decision i would work alternate days at home and some days in the office. Not exactly what I would have preferred but it was a start.

So I spent all morning with IT who made sure my laptop was up and running ready to go, got the laptop and ready to leave and my boss wanted another word.

This time she said ive decided you won't be WFH. I explained I didn't feel comfortable working in the office during this current lockdown and I also advised that being told yes then no was starting to take its toll on me. For the last 2 days I have been stressed out to the point ive been in a state and taking panic attacks. I also suffer from mental health issues which ive managed to get under control but I now feel they are coming back stronger than ever.

I explained all of this and my boss said "there will be a disciplinary if your off" basically scaring me into going in to work. I advised I needed to leave to speak to my doctor and mental health team and I was advised to "make sure you tell your doctor that it really is required that you are in the office for your own sake"

Currently waiting on a call back from my doctor but sitting here and can't help but think I may be sacked if I get put off with a sick line.

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boymum88 Thu 07-Jan-21 15:37:07

I would tell her 🖕and I would be going through HR not her, and putting a complaint in for bullying. It's none of her business what you do with ur kids. Lockdown rules are to work from home which you can do. If you need to get the gp to sign you off sick for a few weeks while u go through hr then do they won't mind I would even get them to put it as stress related
She sounds like a complete a hole and a bully and this needs addressing with hr and higher management

Mimba1 Thu 07-Jan-21 16:16:49

OMG she sounds difficult - and either inexperienced or not very confident as a manager (possibly both!)

I would speak to your HR team to get some advice - you can do that informally to start with as you probably don't want to kick off a grievance process or anything like that. There never seem to be any winners when that happens.

Could you suggest an option to try out (whether 100% WFH or partial WFH) with a review meeting booked in a couple of weeks to check whether either of you have any concerns about how it is working? I've done that in the past with someone on my team who made what I considered to be an unreasonable flexible working request. Rather than just say no we came up with something in the middle to try out and see how it worked for both of us. It was actually OK so we stuck with it and made it formal. You could try asking why she's concerned about you WFH - if there are specific tasks or activities she is worried about you could come up with a plan for them. If the reality is that she's worried you won't actually work at home she's unlikely to say that but you could suggest emailing her daily updates or a daily catch up or something along those lines to make her feel more comfortable. I used to have a boss that called me at 9am and 5pm every day I was WFH I think just to check that I would answer the phone! If that's what they needed to feel secure then fine - I was working anyway.

It would be very difficult for your employer to successfully pursue a disciplinary against you if you can demonstrate that you are able to perform your duties effectively at home and that you considered yourself at risk in the office. But that's still a difficult choice - it sounds like your boss is being unreasonable and you would be in a strong position but taking on a fight like that isn't without its own stresses.

Whatever you decide to do good luck.

M24L Thu 07-Jan-21 17:08:28

@boymum88 my doctor called and advised that those who can work from home should be, I explained the situation to him and he advised that it seems she is just being awkward. He has given me a sick line and signed me off due to stress. I have called her to advise and she didn't seem to care one bit tbh not very supportive at all. I haven't yet spoken with HR but I will do this tomorrow to see where I stand.

@Mimba1 when she mentioned the alternate working pattern she initially said herself for a trial period but within 2 hours she had then said I wouldn't be WFH so I don't think that would be in question tbh and I feel like I'm talking to a brick wall with her now as no matter what she says she takes it back not even 24hrs later.

We also work from a task list and the system we use shows all other users who is actively on their computer and who isn't for example as soon as the computer locks it states that your away from your computer so she would be able to see when I was active and also be able to check that daily tasks are being completed so I dont believe it has anything to actually do with the working side of things.

I have been given the number to a local tribunal's for some information so failing getting anywhere with HR I will be giving them a call as a few people have now said shes effectively bullying.

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Mimba1 Thu 07-Jan-21 17:19:46

Fair enough - sounds like you've tried all reasonable options already and she's left you with limited choice. If that's the case get as much information as you can about what your options are from HR/tribunals team, continue to consistently and professionally advocate for yourself, and keep records! If this does become formal it will help you enormously to have everything written down clearly.

M24L Thu 07-Jan-21 17:24:18

@Mimba1 I have tried everything but any time I feel like I'm getting somewhere something else changes and I'm back to square one. I hope that speaking to HR and possibly the tribunal place i can get some more information about where I stand and I will be sure to keep everything noted down should I need it in the future.

Thank you 😁

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