Pregnant Then Screwed?
These are the UK stats:
100,000 pregnant women and new mothers experience negative comments or harassment at work each year. Then there’s the 54,000 – compared to 30,000 in 2005 – women who were dismissed or forced out of their jobs because they became pregnant.
I am shocked that this is happening… but also not shocked. From a logical point of view if you see women as being seen as ‘less reliable’ than men because they could take months of maternity leave, and you think of the impact that could have on small businesses, it’s totally understandable that anything that has a big impact on bottom line costs will affect decisions. If parental leave was fully shared and flexible working options were made available, we could change this - as the impact of becoming a parent for men and women would be similar. I realise breastfeeding can mean that the mother obviously has to be more involved for feeding, but that is only one part of caring for a baby- there are MANY other areas that the father can take control of!
I see more and more friends opting more into co-parenting: taking an equal share of the responsibilities – splitting them however suits them rather than going for the traditional mum/dad roles. What are your thoughts around co-parenting? Have you done it? Did you wish you’d done it? Think your other half never would have gone for it?
We share parenting responsibilities and as I have been gradually increasing my working hours, Nick my husband is doing more with dad duties as well. It is a constant debate though in terms of who’s turn it is to do what. They do say the first year after having a child is the hardest on a marriage. But that’s another post!
I am incredibly lucky- I was fully supported by my manager and colleagues at Skype to take 7 months maternity leave. The gradual return and understanding of my needs as a new mum was incredible. I believe this is largely due to the fact my team mainly consists of other mums. They even sent me two very well-used presents- a Jumperoo and a baby gym.
The downside to my experience was from a pay point of view- it was only at the statutory rate as I am a freelancer, so 6 weeks at 90%, then the rest of the time off was at £138 per week, which living in SW London, does not cover much. Between this and what my husband earns, we could cover costs, but we had nothing spare and dipped into savings to make bigger buys like nursery furniture. I guess that’s what savings are for!
This loss of earning was expected and planned-for, but I did feel a bit angry to find myself in this position. I had considered finding another job that would offer fully paid maternity leave for 6 months but honestly, I felt I would be at a disadvantage at interviews… married for a year, of ‘childbirth age’ – I almost felt like I should either lie or that I’d be asking them to do me a favour, or that I should put off having a child even longer. I had already put it off waiting to be in the ‘perfect scenario.
Now my son is just over 13 months old and we are still recovering in terms of getting back to where we were before I took maternity leave. Now paying out for childcare as well is a huge hit on earnings.
What are your experiences? Were you one of the 54,000? Would love to hear if you’ve had positive or negative experiences.