More than nine in 10 working parents and carers want their workplace to retain flexible...read more
I have been at my current office job since last December. I was unaware when I was given the position that I was pregnant – I am now 32 weeks pregnant. As with most jobs, there was a standard 6-month probation period, which ended recently. My first six months had gone well, I thought. I had only had 3 days sick leave even though I had horrendous morning sickness to begin with and my 3-month review meeting was really good with no issues regarding my productivity, accuracy, timekeeping or anything else. I have felt increasingly tired over the last couple of months, but had been trying to get up from my desk at regular intervals and stretch my legs. I was aware that I was working at a slower pace than other people due to my increased tiredness, but this wasn’t communicated to me at all as an issue during my probation period. I was expecting to pass my probation at my 6-month meeting as I felt everything had gone well, but at my meeting I was told that my productivity had dropped since my 3-month review and my probation was to be extended for a month (up to when my maternity leave commences). I have been set targets to double my output at work which I am finding impossible. I was diagnosed with pregnancy-related anaemia just over a week ago and I am just so tired I cannot cope with pushing myself so hard at work along with the stress of the possibility of losing my job. I have had 3 days sick leave in the past week due to exhaustion, which I have been told I will not be paid company sick pay for. I have explained to my manager about my tiredness and he advised me to “go to bed earlier”. I am fearful of drinking too much in the day as that would mean more toilet breaks and less time at my desk so I do not get up from my desk now at all apart from my hour lunch break.I have joined Unison but they have informed me they cannot help me until I have been a member for 4 weeks and also cannot help me with any issues that arose before I became a member. So I’m unsure of where to turn now, and what to do about the health issues I am currently facing, the nil sick pay entitlement and ultimately what to do if my employment is ended at the end of this month. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
There is so much here that your employer is doing wrong – where to start?! Firstly, if the sick pay is contractual not discretionary, they have to pay it or they are in breach of the terms & conditions of your contract (which would give you valid grounds for a claim to a tribunal if necessary).
Have you actually told them you are pregnant? If you haven’t already, confirm it to them in writing immediately. If they are aware of this there is even less excuse for them to be treating you this way.
They should have carried out a Risk Assessment for you as an expectant mother – this would cover things such as your toilet breaks & legstretching, as well as the anaemia. You can ask them to do a proper RA now, & if they don’t (or don’t do it properly & make reasonable adjustments for you) then this is a potential discrimination case.
Your tiredness is pregnancy-related, so again they can’t discriminate against you on this & should take it into account when determining what they expect of you (targets, productivity etc.) At the moment their expectations are unrealistic & unfair, & the ‘go to bed earlier’ comment is neither constructive, helpful or supportive!
If they terminate your contract, you don’t have length of service entitlement for an unfair dismissal claim, but you can certainly claim pregnancy discrimination under the Equality Act, in addition to the breach of contract on the sick pay.
I suggest you put something in writing to your manager & cc in HR, explaining all this & asking that they start with a RA for you & use this to make reasonable adjustments, including to your targets. Point out that this is not a formal grievance on your part – yet! – & that you want to avoid that route, but will do if this unfair treatment continues.