Any working pregnant woman will have to think about that moment when they tell their employer that they are carrying a little bun in the oven – I’ve found that people’s attitudes towards the process vary widely from those who have strong relationships with their employer are genuinely happy to share the news, and those who are far more guarded and treat the announcement with military precision because they are so scared that they will be undermined, or even worse, lose their job because of it.
I would say that I was more like the latter, although not because I felt the company would treat me unfairly; on the contrary, the last two companies I had worked at had horrendous people management skills (ie. 1 man who divulged people’s secrets across the office floor and at another company, no HR department to speak of) and I had already decided that when I had a baby, I would be at a transparent company with a mean (as in good!) maternity policy, and that is exactly where I ended up.
So why was I still nervous about the announcement?
Working in a male-centric department, which had a fair amount of physical work too, not just sitting at my desk, I guess I was worried about feeling like a spare part, and also how these guys – most of them not yet parents – would deal with me. Would they understand that I’d need to go and pee every ten minutes?
I remember googling ‘maternity – telling my employer’ and finding lots of forums, threads, Yahoo Answers broaching the subject, along the lines of ‘Can I be sacked for being pregnant’, ‘Offered a job but I’m pregnant’, ‘How can I hide my pregnancy at work for longer’ etc. It is quite a stressful time, and luckily for me, at my company who are hugely professional and have procedures for absolutely everything, I could easily find the maternity information I needed and just basically went through the process, although it was still quite nerve-wracking. The fact is I had heard bitching in the past from all kinds of sources about how so-and-so was pregnant, what a pain, or this person is pregnant again, what a burden on our department now, how annoying etc. etc. etc
And let’s not get started on Katie Hopkins, and her numerous articles on how much she hates pregnant women’s rights to leave and pay. According to her, you can be 12 weeks pregnant and run a marathon (when most women are getting their first scans and terrified as to whether there will be a heart beat detected or not). It’s these kinds of attitudes that can make a woman sometimes feel almost guilty for falling pregnant, even when the baby is very much wanted.
So, do you know your maternity rights? I was emailed an info graphic which I thought I’d share with you cos it looks nice, and also has some key faces about Maternity Rights. I remember doing an equal opportunities course at work (it’s that kind of work place!) and the woman announcing ‘The pregnant woman is one of the most protected groups in the workplace’, as in, we do have rights, we can ask our employers to be fair to use during the pregnancy, and afterwards.
Here is the infographic:
So, how did you find telling work about your pregnancy?