Work getting me down :(

So, I've been having a rough time with work. I work in a busy butchers/bakers/sandwich shop and do four six hour shifts and one seven hour shift per week. It doesn't seem like so much and I know a lot of people do more, but I don't get any kind of break whatsoever. It was hard at the beginning of my pregnancy when I was permanently exhausted, and very tiring over Christmas when I was expected to put in additional hours! again without any breaks. But it got a little easier in January when we weren't so busy. But now I'm creeping into my third trimester, it's a real killer for my back and legs. I come home, and after resting for half an hour (I say resting, when i come home it's study time!) I can barely get back up to walk to the loo!

My employer is a real jerk about it to be honest, he's old and never had a pregnant employee before so he doesn't really know whats what. Or so he'd like me to believe. He's not as stupid about things as he lets on sometimes, so I don't know whether he genuinely doesn't know things, or he's just being a d**k about it! And that's swearing to it which I normal don't do!

He's being difficult about allowing me to take the rest of my annual leave before my maternity leave as he says "I haven't, and won't be, working enough of this year to be entitled to it" even though I presented him with the facts on it. And when I sit in the office for two minutes with calf cramp I get looks or snide comments. Which I guess he must think aren't hurtful or intimidating but they are.

Thursdays are my day off to catch up on my uni work, so as I'm writing my essay this morning, my boyfriend rings up and starts with the line, "Now don't be mad or upset but..." instantly I think he's had a crash on the way to work or something equally as horrible, but instead he says, "I've been to talk to Don"

He went to fight my corner and inform him of my legal right to a break for the hours I work, and how I should get the chance to get off my feet for a little bit while I'm at work. And I love him even more for sticking up for me like he did.

Trouble is, Don doesn't understand privacy so he'll be telling everyone of the conversation and bitching about it no end. And tomorrow, I'll get pulled to one side and intimidated into apologising for Luke, or cutting my hours back so I don't have to have breaks. And I don't want to. But I'm not very good at enunciating my feelings in one to one conversations like that, and so probably will back down and just give in to whatever he says.

I'm worried about what tomorrow will bring when I go into work.

10 Replies

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  • I would say take it easy and diplomatic, and i know its very stressful, but believe me Dorks like these can only be handled by equally dorkish tactics.

    First, you must talk to the citizens advise on this, and affirm your maternity rights. Also this would be like officially intimating someone about your situation with your employer. They might advise you if there is a provision to send in a council/police office to educate Don- just a counselling on how to treat pregnant employees. To me it appears that he is trying to pressure you more, so that you quite the job instead of taking the maternity leave, which I think is legally neither right nor permissible. But to be on safe side, you must talk to the local authorities about it, instead of your boyfriend going and taking charge (the guy is sweet in that sense, but it might lead to some complications if either of them loose their temper or if your Boss falsely complaint about your boyfriend intimidating him - something people of this world normally do to get a pregnant employee off their responsibility)

    So go and talk to the citizens' advise, even if that means only calling them up. see if you can talk to someone in Govt. authority - police etc about it - all these necessary steps would mean that the Govt. is aware of your situation, and in case this guys force you to quite yourself - you still have a case to seek compensation from him (in most cases employers would come on a straight line after an official calling them)

    take care!

  • I know what your saying about being careful with Luke going to talk to him. When I've been winging about work before, he's mentioned going to have a word, and I've always told him not to, but I guess he got fed up of me being fed up. The conversation was civil, and thankfully he's quite docile and wouldn't have raised his voice or anything. My dad on the other hand has also been threatening to go see him and the conversation wouldn't have been quite so civil, so I'm grateful that at least it wasn't him who went!

    It's just these daft pregnancy hormones! I got so worked up and worried this morning after his call! I know it's going to be difficult tomorrow, but maybe it's the push I need to stand my ground. I plan on calling the citizens advice tomorrow as the one in my area isn't open today.

    Thanks for being supportive, I felt so silly after posting this as I just thought, you know, its my fault, I shouldn't have let it come to this. But it'll all seem better in a few days and I'll look back and wonder why I made such a thing of it. Thanks! X

  • No honey its not your fault, what you are facing is something which a lot of women face and is really a question of women's right and the right beginning for a baby. My cousin was forced in similar circumstances to leave her job in an MNC after she declared her pregnancy (prior to that she was being considered for a much due promotion) - Sadly the laws 8 years ago were not as supportive so she could not claim her job and promotion back but only settle for an extra compensation.

    Men like your Boss need to be more sensitive to pregnant women. Growing babies is a tiring process, whether they are inside a mother or outside her, but that must not come in way of their rights to be employed and work in a peaceful environment. As an employer to a pregnant woman he is in fact responsible to make his premise friendlier for you and avoid any work related risk that might be caused to your health. You working 6 hours shift without break throughout your pregnancy is not something which I would consider to be very healthy (although I hope you have still maintained to have good health - all women have different bodies).

    And ofcourse you are not being silly if you are feeling exhausted and need more understanding manager at work. That can happen to any of us.

    My previous supervisory team in the University was completely pushing me to the edge during my first week - thankfully my hormones gave me courage to actually verbally fight and argue with them - Now I have completely changed my supervisory team after making it amply clear to my Dork supervisor that he is a dork and it does not really matter if he is an expert at the age of 50 by the time I would be 50 probably I would also be an expert in my area of interest. But we have to stand for not only our rights but also for the child growing up in us.

  • Hello,

    When i informed my boss i was pregnant he was so understanding as his daughter is currently pregnant. You may have already done it but you are entitled to have a risk assessment carried out by your employer to make sure any changes are completed to meet your needs i.e breaks, i tend not to have breaks at work but that is my choice and i am sat down all day and i know the option is there if i wish to get some fresh air or stretch my legs or eat something. Make sure if you visit citizens advice you ask them about that.

    I told my boyfriend yesterday that my boss has asked me to give a few things a clean around and he was a bit concerned about me doing heavy lifting and stretching but my boss is pretty understanding and when he says it he literally means dusting and tidying the customer area up a little bit.

    You are most definately protected by laws make sure when you visit CAB you know your rights

    x x x

  • Ok your employer is doing the wrong thing and must start behaving and following the law.

    If u work six hours you have to have to have a 15 minute break

    If u work seven hours you have to have a half house break

    He has to do a new risk assessment on you and your job role, so this will point out you must take regular break, and possibly a stall or chair provided for you. Lifting a certain weight in pregnancy etc

    Write a letter to him if you need to reduce hours

    Write a letter to him pointing out that you are unhappy because the above has not been done and causing you stress.

    I know what u are going through my boss tried to sack me when I told him I was pregnant, I won the case and was offered to return to work but no I am staying on sick pay till my maternity leave and then never going back!

  • Hi there, Your Union, should you choose to join is: usdaw.org.uk/aboutus.aspx . You can call them anytime (even before joining) and they'll tell you what they're able to do regarding official letters, site visits, risk assessments, standing up to your boss with the law, time frames etc. As for the above advice, yep all of it is correct and yep, do everything in writing. Further, if you are unable to do your job because of pregnancy (uncovered by the risk assessment) your employer is legally bound to give you another role, which you can do. You may decide that this is not the time to be standing up for women's rights and, well, that's up to you and you're the best person to make that decision. You are able to take maternity leave from 29 weeks and, given that you give Don reasonable notice in writing, you will be entitled to statutory maternity pay for 39 weeks, after which you can choose to return (with reasonable notice to your employer) or your employer must keep your post open to you for a further year, where you are entitled to take unpaid maternity leave. You would then return at an agreed date.

  • This is quite a concise leaflet on rights too...

    maternityaction.org.uk/site...

  • Hi, I work in employment law, so would suggest you also call ACAS too, they are very helpful.

    Working time regs state that if you work OVER 6 hours then you are entitled to a minimum 20min break, which should be taken somewhere in the middle of the shift. So on the days where you only work six hours, provided you don't go over this, legally you're not entitled to a break.

    There should be a risk assessment conducted on your role for pregnancy and this should look at key areas that may need reasonable adjustments at the different stages, and once done it should be reviewed monthly, even if just to note mornings changed. This could include small simple things like providing you with a stool, or adjusting the tasks you do to stop you having to run about (maybe you could do all the prep instead of serving on one day?) so you can still work without standing for long periods, and giving short rest breaks on days where you do need to stand. Adjustments for your employer don't mean you have to cut hours or stop working, they should all be reasonable for both sides and enable him to still get the best from you whilst also making sure you're not at risk.

    I'm sure your boss would be more cross if he ended up with an expensive tribunal claim or HSE investigation.

  • Sounds a horrid situation - I would get some advice from your union if you have one or citizens advice as it sounds like your employer is on thin ice. He can't cut your hours just because your pregnant and has to do a risk assessment and make relevant changes to your work conditions to accommodate you - everything is on your side. They also have to be very careful what they say as it can get them in trouble - with my first I almost ended up taking my employer to tribunal (only stopped when the ceo and HR stepped in giving him a formal warning) over some of the things my manager said which ranged from saying I had to take holiday for my antenatal appointments (not true) to saying I was taking too many trips to the toilet! He even tried said they would have to look at cutting my pay because of the extra I was costing the department from them having to change my chair at my computer because it was unsuitable (as judged by company h&s not me!). Don't let the bugger get you down, just make sure you know your rights and get all the help you can - it's out there for all of us for free

  • Your midwife will tell you your entitled to an extra break, you should have a chat with her then mention it to your boss, you need to break it's hard going! Be diplomatic about it and see how he goes but if he isn't cooperative then take it further you need to look after you and baby! X

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