Do I have any extra rights at work?

Hi, I'm 14 weeks pregnant tomorrow and was just wondering about my rights at work. I work 5 days a week in a busy butchers/bakers/sandwich shop. I work 6 hours a day with no breaks and am on my feet and moving all day, and towards the end of my shift i'm expected to lift stock to refill fridges etc. And it's only going to get worse nearer Christmas.

Because it's only a 6 hour shift I figure I'm not entitled to a break normally anyway? Is that right? But since about 9 weeks, I've been so exhausted when I get home I nap right away for at least an hour, and on my days off, I'm too tired to do anything. It's becoming a chore just to drive home. Am I entitled to any breaks now I'm pregnant?

It's a small independent shop and my boss is very old. He's known that I'm pregnant since I knew, as I thought he would reduce my lifting loads, because at first I was afraid that would hurt the baby. But I'm so tired all the time, so I suggested I take a short five minute sit down, to which I was told that women used to have babies in the fields and carry on with work, and that I was just being soft.

I know I've rambled on for a while but i don't feel like work is taking me seriously. There was no risk assessment done when I told them, which I understand to be something they should have done, and in fact I don't think there are any anyway. Am I just being soft and expecting too much from them?

Thanks for any help.

5 Replies

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  • Hiya,

    Sorry to hear you are in this situation, firstly (if he is your employer and you are not self employed) he is breaking the law by not carrying out a risk assessment on a pregnant worker. It is not an option, it is a requirement. Ideally it should be done with your involvement as you know your role and know what you do day to day. This risk assessment should cover what you are lifting and make sure that you are not putting yourself at risk and if you are then it should say what they are going to do about it. For a company under 5 people there is no legal requirement to have risk assessments written down but they should still be there.

    There is a legal requirement for an employee to take regular breaks but it is down to the job and should be risk assessed individually. There should also be an area for you to "escape" to so you can get out of the area that you work in and rest away from the hustle and bustle. I work in an office for 5 hours a day in front on a pc and because of this I should be taking a short break every hour away from the screen which is not always practical and I imagine your job is similar, if there are customers you might not be able to take a scheduled break? this doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a break at all, employees don't have to be paid for their breaks so if you need to take a break, if its going to be a problem perhaps you could work something out by having an hour deducted at the end of the week or something for your breaks.

    It sounds as though your boss is a bit "old school" when it comes to having staff in the workplace but this is no excuse, we all have to work to the same guidelines. Take a look at the links below, especially the HSE link as they are the enforcing authority.

    hse.gov.uk/mothers/

    adviceguide.org.uk/england/...

    Ask your boss if you can have a proper chat to him and sit down and explain your concerns to him. It can be daunting for an employer to have a pregnant employee but he cant hide from it he does need to make sure that his employee and also his business is protected from anything happening.

    Good Luck with this and your pregnancy. x

  • Thank you for getting back to me. It's a bit daunting talking to him about this sometimes, as I feel he has a bit of a "if I can do this in my sixties then you can do it too" attitude. I'm 23 and the youngest at work, and the only person who's ever been pregnant while working there. Sometimes he's really good about my pregnancy, and asks the men I work alongside to carry the items I need to fill the fridge etc. But sometimes he makes me feel like a burden.

    When I had my twelve week scan, it clashed with my working hours, but the midwife said it didn't matter because my boss had to let me go by law, and still pay me. So I told my boss and went to work on the morning, slipped away for the scan and went straight back to work after, and he made me feel so awful for leaving for an hour. And then asked if I was taking it as part of my day off. It makes me feel so guilty for being pregnant.

    I'm one of these people who struggle to say no to people, and I think he knows this because he's trying to guilt me into covering other shifts which would mean longer hours but still no breaks. I know I should just talk to him about all this but it's so intimidating and I'm so emotional all the time now that I worry I'll just start crying.

    Thank you for listening to me rant on, even though you don't really have a choice :-)

  • It is horrible being so emotional when trying to deal with a situation where you want to keep yourself level, I burst into tears during my appraisal last week as I have been rowing with my boss (who doesn't know I am pregnant yet as he is my father in law as well so a bit complicated!) and although for the most part my boss is a good boss, he can be a bit patronizing and mentioned that it was because of my female emotions, insinuating that women are a bit feebler bless him. I took a breath and told him that if my being in touch with my emotions makes him feel uncomfortable then that is his problem and not mine and I am quite happy with showing my emotions and if he feels uncomfortable maybe he should grow up a bit! bit of a lie as I would have preferred not to cry and if i wasn't pregnant I might have been able to not cry but it shut him up!

    You are allowed time off and do not be bullied in to taking it as holiday, it is hard but if you stand your ground then he will start to respect this once he has gotten used to the idea. I haven't told my boss yet so I had to take my time off as holiday but that is my choice, you told your boss so he has to comply with the law.

    I am the same that I used to be a bit of a yes woman and would take on far too much but i feel so much better for turning round and saying no actually, I have too much to do find someone else to do that. As for working extra shifts, you have to have some sort of break if you are finishing one work session and starting a new one surely?

    If you do start crying just say to him that you are pregnant and emotional but what you are saying is not coming from an emotional place but a rational place and you want him to listen to what you are saying not what you are doing.

    Believe me this is the place to rant and there will always be someone here to listen! Good Luck with it, choose a day gather yourself together and just go with whatever happens. Dont apologise for your emotions, its just part of the package! x

  • I am so sorry that you are not getting the support you deserve from your employer just now. If you find it hard to get him to listen to what considerations he should be taking now you are pregnant, then maybe you could contact your local citizens advice buroux and ask them to send you a leaflet to pass on to him about pregnancy and the employer's responsibilities.

    Don't let others make you feel lazy or guilty for needing to rest or for time off for scans and midwife appointments, you are needing this for the protection of your unborn baby.

    Good Luck dearie,

    Take Care,

    B. x

  • Sounds like you're in a tricky situation. It sounds to me like your boss genuinely has no idea of what his responsibilities are. Bobby70's suggestion is a good one - and from your point of view if you can work with him to ensure everything's being done properly, it will make for a better working relationship now and when you return.

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