As you contemplate pregnancy, you may be torn between your desire to work and to devote your time to your future child. Perhaps you need your job, or maybe you love what you do. Regardless, raising a baby and working 9 to 5 (or longer!) can be tough on a recent mother. It can be rougher still if your employer discriminates against you and your pregnancy, which is a woefully frequent event even today.
Many mothers who request maternity leave or are just returning from their recent time off during pregnancy may find themselves without a job, or have their employers harassing them to work even while they're on leave. The Telegraph recently reported on findings from the House of Commons Library, which showed that, in the United Kingdom, about 14 percent of women returning from maternity leave find themselves without a job or unable to work the part-time hours necessary to balance a family and career during those first few crucial months after birth.
For mothers in the U.K., fighting pregnancy discrimination can be difficult, as they must pay £1,200 ($1,863) just to present their case to an employment tribunal. This can be a rather steep fee if you have to raise a newborn and you're unemployed.
This form of discrimination is hardly unique to the British Isles, either. Glamour magazine recently spoke with a few mothers in the United States who lost their jobs due to pregnancy discrimination. The magazine highlighted Natasha Jackson, who was forced onto unpaid medical leave before eventually losing her job - all because she started coming in late from morning sickness. After two years of arbitration, she failed to get her job back as an account manager.
If this happens, know you have legal options
However, you should be aware that employers discriminating against your pregnancy is illegal and you do have a number of rights if you want to keep working but need some time off for your child. The Telegraph advised that you save any discriminatory emails and note any phone conversations you have. Additionally, a formal letter might be enough to avoid any legal hassles. You shouldn't have to worry about these details during your week to week pregnancy, but there's always the possibility.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 declared that you can't be discriminated against because you're having a child, and that you should be treated the same as anyone else who isn't pregnant. The Family and Medical Leave Act also guarantees you 12 weeks of unpaid leave to take care of your child, and that your job and health insurance coverage is protected during this period. The loss of income in this time is unfortunate, but legally, you can't be fired, so you should have a job waiting for you when you get back from your delivery. If not? Lawyer up.
Did you have to take time off of work for your pregnancy? If so, did you run into any problems when you came back? We want to know what you have to say!