What seemed like a good idea at the time, now brings all that flirting by the water cooler to a sobering reality. It turns out the real reason why you’ve developed a penchant for rum and raisin ice cream and pickles in the last two months is………yes, that’s right – you’re pregnant!
To make matters worse, the father is Wayne from the post room, but we will cover parental suitability and if you should actually get together with the future parent of your child in another article.
Your immediate problem, is how to organise your working life so that the pregnancy runs as smoothly as possible.
We’ve therefore put together this guide for working mums-to-be because well, let’s be honest – dads-to-be are useless!
1. You have rights despite doing wrong
Despite allowing yourself to be deflowered by a petrol head called Wayne that comes from Braintree in Essex, you haven’t, believe it or not, completely excluded yourself from the rest of humanity. Now that you’re pregnant, you still have the following rights at work:
- You can still get paid for time off for antenatal care (for the benefit of our South African readers, this doesn’t mean that you will be paid for sodding off and caring for a sick auntie in Kwa-Zulu Natal).
- Maternity leave (as opposed to your boss yelling “Maternity? LEAVE!”).
- Maternity allowance or pay.
- Protection from discrimination and unfair treatment – an idea that we’re looking to roll out for all staff here at The W1nners’ Club at some point in the future.
Please note however:
- Antenatal care isn’t just about having gel smeared over your belly before an ultrasound scan. It also includes antenatal and/or parenting classes if the midwife thinks raising an eyebrow, let alone raising a child might be a challenge for you (she’s obviously met Wayne from the post room).
- Your contract can’t be altered arbitrarily without your agreement.
- You have to be paid your normal rate if you’re off work for antenatal care. Wayne from the post room is also entitled to time off for 2 antenatal appointments – which we reckon is about all he’ll be able to handle.
2. An illness relating to pregnancy
Your statutory maternity pay and maternity leave will kick in automatically if you take time off work for a pregnancy related illness any time after 4 weeks before the baby is due. It is therefore advisable to get your long weekend in Bruges booked before this point, as calling in sick for the Monday off could end up costing you dearly.
3. Statutory maternity leave
If you’re not taking statutory leave, you are required by law to take 2 weeks off after you give birth. If you work in a factory, you’re required to take a full month off work – presumably the government thinks people who work in factories take longer to change nappies or something?
4. Letting your boss know
If you’re big enough to do the crime, you have to tell the boss in good time – 15 weeks before the due date to be precise. Whilst admitting to carrying the offspring of a man that thinks fatherhood is the next film in the trilogy after Kidulthood and Adulthood won’t be the most comfortable conversation you’ve ever had at work, you’ll need to tell your employer as soon as possible if you’ve been a wuss up until now. This is because you won’t be able to take time off for antenatal appointments until you do. Throwing up in the bin at 9am will therefore be put down as a hangover until you make the powers that be in your office aware of your true state.
5. Health and safety
When an employee tells the boss that she is pregnant, the gaffer needs to assess any potential risks to the baby and/or the mother in the workplace which could be one of the following:
- Carrying or lifting heavy items.
- Sitting or standing for long periods without a break (although it has to be said that the idea of sitting down for too long being harmful to your health might give others in the office ideas, so bosses should in our opinion hide the health and safety leaflets regarding pregnancy for this very reason).
- Exposure to a toxic substance (ie. the mother needs to be kept as far away from Wayne from the post room as possible, especially now he knows that he’s going to be a dad).
- Long hours (even though an hour can only ever actually be 60 minutes).
Where such risks are apparent, an employer will need to take reasonable steps to reduce an employee’s hours and get rid of Wayne if at all possible (we don’t want this happening again now do we?)
If Wayne can’t be ‘invited’ to leave quietly, the pregnant mother will have to be suspended…………………on full pay of course – this is dependent on whether suitable alternative work can be found or not.
Employees who believe they’re at risk and their employers disagree, should speak to a Health and Safety or Trade Union executive, or get the boss to drink too much at the Christmas party and end up in bed with Wayne from the post room – they might then understand the need for compassion in the world!!