Telling your boss you’re pregnant

I don’t know about you but when I was pregnant I worried about every little thing. Should I be eating this? Am I exercising enough? Have I bought enough baby grows? Early on in my pregnancy, besides the health of my growing baby, the thing I worried about the most was telling my boss the good news. I was new to my job and was nervous about telling my new boss I was pregnant as I was yet to feel like a fully established member of staff, I was very much still the new girl.

My 12 week scan was rapidly approaching and I knew it would soon be time to tell my employer about the pregnancy, I wasn’t going to be able to hide it forever. The day after my scan I decided to tell her, I convinced myself I was stressing over nothing. Yes I was new but I was doing well in my work and we seemed to have a good relationship, surely I had nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately, I was right to be so concerned.

I was not greeted with congratulations and well wishes, instead I was told it was very likely my employment would be terminated as my boss wanted someone who was fully committed to the business, I had every intention of working up until the very last few weeks of pregnancy and planned to only take 6 months maternity leave, it was my first job after university and I was eager to make it work. I was never able to prove what the business meant to me, the following week I was told the job was no longer mine.

3 moths pregnant and unemployed. Not exactly the ideal situation.

Friends and family told me it wasn’t fair – ‘she can’t do that?’ , ‘is that even legal?’. As it turns out, no it is not legal. My not so lovely boss had breached discrimination laws set out in the Equality and Employment rights acts. A quick phone call with citizen advice bureau revealed what happened to me was not just illegal but I also had a strong case for compensation.

This is not what I wanted when I first found out I was expecting. I wanted my boss to be OK with it and to have my job waiting for me when I came back from maternity leave. I did not want to be dealing with a solicitor and a messy compensation case up until the time I was 8 months pregnant. I did not want to have to read my now ex employers defence statement, full of lies, painting me as an incompetent employee, when in fact I worked hard every single day.

We don’t always get what we want though, do we?

After everything, I only came away with £4000 in compensation. Just over 4 months worth of wages. 4 months I could have still been working for her, by that point I would have been 7 months pregnant and still very capable of sitting at a computer answering emails and making phone calls. This £4000 by no stretch of the imagination covered my loss of earnings, let alone my loss of maternity pay. This was a settlement reached out of court, a trial could have resulted in a much higher payment but could have also resulted in nothing. It all would have depended on how the judge was feeling on the day. 8 months pregnant, extremely hormonal and stressed, I decided to settle out of court. I could not stand to listen to my boss tell the judge her web of lies, so for my health and my baby’s, we took her offer.

Now I am not saying this is going to happen to you or you should try and claim compensation if it does. That decision is up to you. All I am saying is know your rights before you tell your boss about your pregnancy. It is better to be informed, just in case.

As a pregnant employee you have 4 main rights –

1. The right to paid time off for antenatal care
2. The right to not be treated differently/discriminated against due to your pregnancy
3. The right to maternity leave
4. The right to maternity pay/maternity allowance

If your employer denies you of any of these things then they are breaking the law. Also, you do not have to tell your employer you’re pregnant as early as I did. If you have a physical job that may put you or your baby’s health at risk you may wish to share the news early on, otherwise you can wait until you are 25 weeks before you tell your employer. How I wish I had waited that long. If I wasn’t such an honest idiot and just invested in some baggy tops, I could have worked an extra 13 weeks. But I didn’t and there is no point looking back now.

Anyway, there is no way I would have swapped spending these 2 years I have had off with Leo for more time working for an employer who ultimately, wasn’t that nice or caring anyway.

If you want to find out more about your rights as a pregnant employee, .gov website and citizens advice have lots of useful information.

How did your boss react when you told them you were pregnant? Did you have a similar experience to me? If you are pregnant now and are looking to tell your boss soon, good luck and don’t worry, luckily my story is quite an uncommon one.

MaternityMondays
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22 Comments

  1. October 26, 2015 / 4:38 pm

    It's a really difficult conversation. I was panicking about telling my boss as I'd recently had time off for back surgery and fallen pregnant almost as soon as I got back to work. Luckily she has been really supportive but I don't think this is the case most of the time. #materntymondays

  2. October 26, 2015 / 7:58 pm

    Ahh bless you what an awful situation for you! I was dreading telling my boss as my colleague was expecting a few weeks before me….it didn't go down that well but was otherwise ok! Hope you are ok now. Popping over from #maternitymondays

  3. October 26, 2015 / 8:15 pm

    that is terrible. My boss didn't speak to me really after telling him and I handed my notice in last month and he didn't even turn up after working there 12 years. It seems there is a long way to go for maternity rights here. #maternitymondays

  4. October 27, 2015 / 7:05 am

    That's so awful; what a shame that your boss missed on a brilliant opp to support you. My breastfeeding negotiations on returning to work after maternity leave taught me about the importance of knowing ones rights in the law in this area. That form that we have to give to employers from teh hospital also states the latest time employers should be informed and I think it's definitely handy to remember this. So wish you had delayed telling too, and so annoying you didn't get your maternity pay, £4000 is peanuts in this situation. #MaternityMondays

  5. October 27, 2015 / 9:12 am

    Hard to believe there are still people losing their jobs over this- so sorry to hear that it happened to you but I am so glad you stuck up for yourself and followed through on your rights. Thank you for sharing this important information- I hope it will help someone who wasn't aware to make sure they are not losing wages and/or employment over something as wonderful as a new baby! #twinklytuesday

  6. October 29, 2015 / 7:36 pm

    This is a fabulous post — thanks so much for highlighting such an awful issue. It's extraordinary to believe that this still goes on in this day and age isn't it? I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. Shame on your ex-boss. Thanks for linking up with us at #TwinklyTuesday

  7. October 31, 2015 / 10:34 pm

    Oh no, someone got in there before you..how annoying. Glad it wasn't too bad for you, I'm ok now just worry about getting another job one day and possibly the same thing happening again. It kind of made me lose my faith in employers but I'm sure there are lots of lovely, law abiding ones out there!xx

  8. October 31, 2015 / 10:38 pm

    That is awful, especially as you had been in your job so long! Yes, there definitely needs more to be done, employers shouldn't be able to get away with it. I think they need more than the fear of being sued to stop them from this kind of discrimination. I hope one day we can all find a job working for someone understanding and supportive xx

  9. October 31, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    I know it is a big shame. Makes me upset every time I think about it, it was a really hard and stressful time but could have easily been avoided. Yes it is good to know the law and we'll done to you for making it so you could carry on breastfeeding once you returned to work xx

  10. October 31, 2015 / 10:43 pm

    I hope it helps someone too, no pregnant woman should be let go just because she wants to start a family. I didn't think this still happened either, but clearly it does. Hopefully more laws will be put in to place to make it even more difficult for employers to get away with it.xx

  11. October 31, 2015 / 10:46 pm

    Thanks Caro, I felt like I needed to write it. It was such a horrible time and I don't want any other pregnant woman to have to go through it. In an age of so many equality and discrimination rights/laws you would think it would be impossible for this to happen wouldn't you?Thanks for hosting xx

  12. November 1, 2015 / 8:13 am

    It is such a shame not all women are supported at this time in their lives, isn't it? I am glad things worked out well for you. I know, it is such a hard conversation! I didn't even know how to start it, ended up telling her the news at 5pm as I knew I would be able to run away home once I told her!!xx

  13. November 1, 2015 / 12:33 pm

    I remember telling my business partners that I was pregnant and their faces literally said GAME OVER haha! #KCACOLS

  14. Rachel Bitmead
    November 1, 2015 / 8:01 pm

    Oh what a horrid experience! My boss was great and i had only been made permanent from an agency temp not long before i found out i was pregnant. My boss said she already knew because of how ill i looked every morning haha! #KCACOSL

  15. November 1, 2015 / 9:21 pm

    I can't believe that any employer in this day and age would be so stupid. They may be thinking 'oh bugger' but they can't treat you any different. I have been extremely lucky when telling my boss about both my pregnancies – two different bosses at different companies. The first time my company was being taken over when I found out I was pregnant and I was eventually made redundant by the new owners while I was on maternity leave – they can do that by the way as long as your redundancy is for business reasons, not to do with your pregnancy. However, redundancy was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time as it opened up a lot of new opportunities, the most important of which was with my current employer. They are just amazing and so family friendly. Thanks for sharing you experience #KCACOLS

  16. November 2, 2015 / 5:18 pm

    That sounds a complete nightmare. I also had problems, but for different reasons. I'd worked there 10 years but the department was about 95% male and they'd never had anyone be pregnant, so they had no clue what to do. They weren't happy about giving me mat pay (even though it was only SMP which I believe is paid by the government anyway?), they tried telling me I had to go via the jobcentre to get it, they refused to sign my MATB1 form, made me take holidays for my antenatal appointments and at one point they even claimed I didn't work for them and was self employed! Thinking about it, I'm glad I chose to be a stay at home mum rather than go back there! x

  17. November 5, 2015 / 12:36 am

    I feel for you so much for everything you went through – they were appalling and I'm so impressed that you've put this post together as it will really help other women going through a similar situation 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #KCACOLS and do join in next Sunday! Mim x

  18. November 11, 2015 / 2:20 pm

    Oh no, was it game over?!xx

  19. November 11, 2015 / 2:21 pm

    You are very lucky to have such a lovely boss. I wonder how long she had known for before you told her? Morning sickness sucks!xx

  20. November 11, 2015 / 2:23 pm

    I am so happy that you have had 2 good experiences of being pregnant at work. It seems that most people do which is great, I was just unfortunate I think. It is great for you that you work for such a family friendly company, when I eventually go back to work I hope I can find someone like that.xx

  21. November 11, 2015 / 2:24 pm

    Oh no, that is awful. Just because they are male doesn't mean they should be ignorant to the law. Sounds like you are better off out of there!xx

  22. November 11, 2015 / 2:25 pm

    I really do hope this post is useful to any pregnant women out there who are about to tell their employer the news. I don't want anyone to have to go through what I did because it really was the most stressful and upsetting time. Thanks, I love the #KCACOLS linky xx

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