thread: Work being difficult concerning parents and 'Mother's Rights at work'

  1. #1
    Registered User

    Mar 2008
    the world

    Work being difficult concerning parents and 'Mother's Rights at work'

    This is on behalf of a friend but was wondering if anyone could help. I am not sure if the fact that my friend and I are in the UK makes a big difference but just hoping someone might have some knowhow.

    My friend has a 2 year old. She worked fulltime before her baby was born and returned to work part time when her baby was 1. Her agreed parttime hours were 16 hours a week. 8 of those in the office and the rest to be made up with working at home. She thought it was a pretty good deal. She has taken a pro rata reduction in pay but is managing on a reduced income and thinks the sacrifice is worth it to spend time with her little one in the first three years. Her little one went to CC for two mornings a week.

    However the workload proved to be impossible at home with her toddler around so she reduced her hours further and now works one full day a week (so 8 hours a week) This has meant a further paycut which she is struggling with but acknowledges is necessary for her to be at home.

    Anyway now her work seem to be forcing her out. Her boss is a woman who is self made millionaire and sent her children to CC fulltime so has little sympathy for my friend wanting to be at home with her child. The other women in the office also make comments all the time about 'just leave her at CC...she'll be fine' which may have been the case for them but my friend doesn't want to and can see her LO is struggling with CC. There is also a consultant who has been brought in to manage and he has zero sympathy for working mothers with parenting commitments. My friend gets her work done but now they are trying to make out that she has no commitment to the company.

    Once she made a comment about it being discriminatory that part time workers could not get a payrise along with everyone else and a few times she has had to take time off work because her LO has been ill.

    She has had random work appraisals (that noone else has been subject to) where insinuations have been made about her being 'litigious' because of her comments about mother's working rights. In fact she found (in a really obvious place that she would go to) the 'secret' bit of paper with this word and her name written on it by her boss.

    Her most recent appraisal outlined (on paper again but this time official!) that she needed to put the needs of the business before her family life and to stop 'going on about mother's rights at work'

    Now I know if the words mother were replaced with black or disabled there could be a right uproar and I am aware that it is discrimination to women to not allow them to pump BM etc but how far does it go for parenting responsibilities? We both understand that a business could find mothers a hassle to employ but she gets her work much of a pound of flesh do companies need today!!??

    She feels quite hounded out now and is contemplating resigning.

  2. #2
    Registered User

    Jan 2006

    Is she getting the work she is employed to do done? Is she turning up late to work? Is she causing the business a huge inconvenience? What exactly is she saying about mother's rights (as we don't really have any) and to whom? Honestly.

    The law in the UK is that you do not have the right to go back to work part-time. It must be considered, but it can be deemed unfeasible, and she can be let go if her position working one day a week is no longer suitable, the work isn't getting done and she refuses to up her hours. Sounds like the business needs someone who will do more hours and your friend is making it hard for them - they probably don't want to get rid of her, but they may have to if they need her to do more hours and she won't.

  3. #3
    Registered User

    Mar 2008
    the world

    I guess she has just got to the end of the line with them. They want someone fulltime and she won't. And you are right we have no rights and it looks like it is going to get worse

  4. #4
    Registered User

    Oct 2007
    Middle Victoria

    I have issues that i am passionate about, but don't discuss at work or in other forums because they are not relevant or the discussion appropriate in that place. I go to work to work.

    If your friend enjoys her work and wants to stay there, can she tone down her excitement for mother's rights while she is at work (when it is not relevant to what is happening), and she might find that she and the employer/workmates are happier.

    It may also help to get her point across, when mother's rights are relevant to the discussion, if her workmates are not just zoning out when she talks because they think they have heard it all before.

  5. #5
    Registered User

    Mar 2008
    the world

    She doesn't go on about it...she has just mentioned once in her appraisal that part time workers should qualify for raises as well. My friend is not a cause person like me. Meeting her and spending time with her you would have absolutely no idea what her passionate beliefs were. She doesn't even stand up for herself when she should. I am surprised she even made that one comment! She doesn't even mention her daughter at work because she feels she can't. These comments from her employers have come about just from this one comment and the fact that she had to take some time off when her child was ill. And probably from the fact that she didn't go back fulltime like all the other women.

    I really think this is a case of workplace bullying but like it seems it is in the workplace today you just have to put up or shut up or leave.

  6. #6
    Registered User

    Nov 2009

    It sounds like your friend's one comment is being blown way out of proportion IMO. Like you said, just because CC is something that worked for her boss and her colleagues doesn't mean it's right for everyone. Your friend shouldn't be made to feel like she is because of her parenting choices. Everyone is entitled to personal/sick leave whether it is to look after a child or because they are sick themselves. I presume she wouldn't be made to feel like this if she had been ill herself and had time off? Or maybe she would! Whether or not she has the right to return to work part-time after parental leave seems irrelevant as this is something her & employer have already agreed upon ITMS. From your post it doesn't sounds like your friend's boss has a problem with her work or even her work hours - more the fact that she is 'going on about mothers' rights'. It seems like your friend is really wanting to know if part-time workers are entitled to the same/equivalent benefits as full-time workers ie payrise.

    The text below is from the website about part-time worker protection which has got heaps of information about returning to work after parental leave and flexible working options.

    You should receive the same treatment at work as an equivalent full-timer, so any job benefits, employment terms and conditions or opportunities open to full-timers should also be available to you. The benefits are normally ‘pro rata’, meaning that they should be in proportion to your hours. For example if an equivalent full-timer gets a £1,000 bonus and you work half the number of hours, you should get a £500 bonus.It may not be possible to pro-rata some benefits to part-timers (for example, health-club membership). In this situation your employer would have to decide either to give the benefit to both full- and part-time staff or (if there was objective justification) not to give part-time workers the benefit.
    Your employer is entitled to offer better terms to part-timers, perhaps to encourage a more balanced workforce, but they will need to be sure that doing this is not against other discrimination laws.
    Parental leave and flexible working : Directgov - Parents
    Part-time worker protection : Directgov - Employment
    Hope those links are ok as they're .gov ones?

    It's a tough situation as I'm sure your friend doesn't really want to confront them as this will probably only give her boss more 'reasons' to try to force her out. So I haven't really got any advice for your friend other than either to decide whether to carry on, keep quiet and try to work through it or decide to pursue some sort of discrimination action against employer if that's even possible. Or look for another job....

  7. #7
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber
    Add sushee on Facebook

    Sep 2004
    Melb - where my coolness isn't seen as wierdness

    The thing is, even with her returning part-time, this needs to align with the needs of the business too. She can't choose to only work 8 hours because that's all she can cope with if they need her to work more hours than that. This is when discord between employer and employee starts to happen.

    I went back to work 4 days a week after maternity leave and that meant I was ineligible to apply for positions where they needed someone there 5 days a week. I understand that. Some jobs can't be done part-time, or not enough gets done if it's done part-time.

    I personally can't have someone only working 3 days a week but taking up a full-time position in my team. And I could not job share a position in my team because continuity of work is important. So if one of my team was to have a baby and only wanted to come back 3 days a week, I would be looking for them to be placed in an alternate position at the same pay/responsibilities that is NOT part of my team. But I could do that working in a big department. Not so easy when you're working for a small business.

    And I'm all for mother's rights but this is where the issue becomes muddied. If mother's rights are upheld at the expense of a company's needs, then less employers will be willing to hire mothers. It's not about lack of empathy (for me anyway, I can't speak for your friend's employer) but about the right amount of resources for the job that needs to get done.

    Having said that, when I eventually got a promotion, I worked from home the one day I wasn't in the office. Once that became untenable, I went back to work 5 days a week, because I had come to a fork in the road and had to make a decision. It's not easy being a working mother, and balancing home and work is incredibly difficult sometimes, but there are always two perspectives, and I guess it's important to see the other POV too.