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Pregnancy but not equal treatment

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by friarsyear1, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. friarsyear1

    friarsyear1 New commenter

    Hi Everyone.

    I am currently 18 weeks pregnant with a high risk pregnancy. I had to tell my headteacher at 16 weeks pregnant of my news as I had approached the person that sorts the break duty rota and asked her to remove me from my duties as was done in my first pregnancy. She said she couldn’t do that without permission from the head.

    When I met with the head, she said this was not normally done until much later in the pregnancy and that she would wait until my risk assessment was done before making a decision. Risk assessment was sent through that day and it stated in there “Avoid break duty where possible”.

    I forwarded a copy of my risk assessment to the head last week, stating our conversation and the facts. She did not respond. I forwarded that e-mail and she acknowledged that she had received it and then followed it up with an e-mail asking when I am available to meet. I work one day a week.

    My LSA is also pregnant. She told the head at 12 weeks and was removed from duties, no questions asked.

    Now, I know that the risk assessment needs to be followed. I am not sure why she is making this situation harder than it needs to be.

    Any thoughts will be appreciated.

    Thank you.
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Dear HT,
    As you know, I am only in school on Mondays. Given the risk assessment and the fact that my pregnancy is already classified as high risk, I presume I will no longer be doing break duty, so should be able to meet with you briefly during break.

    Did the risk assessment take into account it being a high risk pregnancy?
  3. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    what is the risk in break duties? can you do them sitting down instead of standing up and moving around? what is it about them that is risky?
    harsh-but-fair likes this.
  4. agathamorse

    agathamorse Senior commenter

    The last two schools where I had to do break duties we were not allowed to sit. We also weren't allowed to stand in one spot and definitely not allowed to talk to the other teachers on break duty. And there is the risk of being bumped into or knocked over.
  5. SammyBear2016

    SammyBear2016 Occasional commenter

    Be careful with claiming unequal treatment as you don't necessarily know the full reasons for your colleagues removal from break duty.

    If your pregnancy is high risk, your head may be questioning why you did not inform them sooner. When you did inform them, you went to a less senior member of staff to ask to be removed from one of your duties. I understand that people often do not want to divulge news of pregnancy until at least 12 weeks but the sooner an employer knows the sooner they can put measures in place to safeguard you and your baby. You can also request that they do not disclose the information to anyone else.

    I would consider the following questions:
    • Has the fact that your pregnancy is high risk been identified on the risk assessment and the possible problems that might occur because of it?
    • Does the risk assessment cover all possible risks of you being on duty? The key for me is “Avoid break duty where possible”. They have not said that it should be avoided all together so if needed you can do it.
    • Are you happy with and agree with the risk assessment that has been carried out? Were you consulted on it? Is it just a generic risk assessment that your employer uses for all pregnant members of staff? If it is then it is not necessarily fit for purpose as it does not take into account personal circumstances.
  6. youmakemesmile

    youmakemesmile New commenter

    I really feel for you! You and your child's safety comes first! Wish I knew the answer about how to achieve that practically
    agathamorse likes this.
  7. Marisha

    Marisha Occasional commenter

    Even if you're allowed to sit down, there's the risk of being bumped into and so on if children become excitable. Contact your union.


    I'm surprised to find that break duty is mandatory in England; in Scotland, they can ask us to do it, but not force us. After being put in a situation where I had to break up a particularly nasty fight between two boys - with no back-up - I told my SLT I was no longer doing break duty.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. friarsyear1

    friarsyear1 New commenter

    Thanks all. The Maternity Matters document states that pregnant women need breaks for toilet visits and rehydration. Our day starts at 8.30am and break is at 10am. Sometimes I get to about 9.30am before needing to ask someone to watch my class so I can go to the loo (my LSA is often not in as she has been signed off a few times due to a pregnancy related condition). This isn’t ideal as it interrupts another class. If I don’t have the opportunity to go to the toilet at 10am, the next opportunity would be 12.

    I have spoken with my LSA about how she arranged her removal from her duty and she has said she has a rare blood type. I don’t know if that can affect pregnancy but she said she wasn’t asked to explain it.

    I told the member of SLT as I wanted to get the break rota sorted in time for the new half term. I was 12 weeks when I told her. I had no intention of telling anyone else until 25 weeks as I was being cautious. I don’t feel comfortable with everyone knowing my personal situation and I don’t relax until I’m 24 weeks and our baby is regarded as viable by doctors.

    The risk assessment is mostly general with some additional points on there (I passed out a couple of times in my last pregnancy).

    I won’t be in school tomorrow as there was a confirmed case of chickenpox in my class. I wasn’t officially told by a member of SLT. My partner teacher messaged me. I’ve had to have a blood test to check my immunity and have been told by my midwife to not return to school until the results are back.

    I’m most definitely not looking to cause any issues in school but I do feel as though my pregnancy is not being taken into consideration. It was the same in my first pregnancy and I was, reluctantly, signed off 3 weeks prior to my maternity leave. I absolutely love my job. I look forward to each week and I’ve been trying to get more days since returning from my first maternity leave (as was agreed in a conversation with the head) but unfortunately the cheaper option is to use an LSA who has been made into a cover tutor.

    Thank you for your responses. It’s helpful to hear different points of view.
  9. SammyBear2016

    SammyBear2016 Occasional commenter

    If i were you, i would be inclined to revisit your risk assessment and see if there is anything that you feel should be added. There will always be some generic points that are applicable for every pregnant person but pregnancy can be very different for women. I would then ask to have a meeting with whoever completes your risk assessment and go through your points with them. If they do not alter what is currently in place I would want it documenting that you have raised concerns over the contents of the current risk assessment and do not find it to be an accurate record. It might also be worthwhile contacting your union if the necessary changes are not made.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Firstly congratulations on the news.

    I would not worry about the break rota at the moment. Your head has an obligation to do all that is reasonable to prevent or remove exposure to any significant risk that has been found. They also need to tell you what action has been taken. They have said they want to discuss things with you, so I would go to the meeting and see what comes of it. It would be a foolish head willing to ignore any risk assessment and the consequences that could bring against them.

    I am guessing the use of unqualified teaching staff means you are an academy? In which case the HT may have needed to discuss it with the people above first.
    agathamorse likes this.

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