The title of this post could refer to an awful lot of things in life but as our February theme is Work, I’m talking about flexible working and maternity discrimination and frankly it’s more what we need than want that isn’t being made available.
What if I told you that each year in the U.K. 5,400 women lost their jobs just for daring to procreate? Pretty shocking. What if I told you the actual figure is 54,000?! Unbloodybelievable…but this is the reality we are facing.
I was one of those women, efficiently and politely pushed out of my role whilst still off on maternity leave and deep in the mental fug of being a new mother. All that I had requested was to return on a part time basis, something that I was advised “shouldn’t be an issue” before I finished up yet was denied just a short while later.
Due to a mix of said fug, corporate jargon, restrictive tribunal time limits I chose not to pursue my employer to get what I needed. Instead I sat tight and when I stumbled across a wee part time job local to me I handed in my notice and just never returned to my hard earned career.
It felt like I had given up. That I had walked away from years of work and sacrifice. Ultimately that is exactly what it was but I was also gaining the balanced work/family life I had always dreamed of.
Because of my personal experience, when the opportunity arose to become involved with Pregnant Then Screwed’s March of the Mummies, I jumped at the chance. I co-organised the Glasgow March and what an experience it was. Literally dozens of women got in touch with me to tell me their stories, saying how embarrassed they had been made to feel for to be even trying to defend their rights. I took the story of the March onto the radio, speaking to both Clyde 2 and BBC Scotland’s Kaye Adams show, where again women called in to share their experiences and dismay at lack of support for mothers returning to work.
Thankfully there seems to be a change happening, very slowly but it’s happening . Incredible women like Joeli from Pregnant Then Screwed and Anna Whitehouse with her FlexAppeal campaign are chipping away at the societal norms and fighting to make the working world a more flexible and fairer place for all that choose to inhabit it.
I could go on and on for days about shocking stats and details about maternity discrimination but I reckon you would all get fed up and the message would be lost. Instead I will say, there is help out there, change is happening and never be embarrassed or bullied into asking for what’s best for your family.
Linked here are some pages that can offer support and advice for anyone experiencing maternity discrimination or denial of flexible working. I’m also up for a chat anytime on this subject so feel free to message me on the Mama Says page.