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Pregnancy - can I ask for lesser duties in an independant school?

Discussion in 'Independent' started by scats, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. Thought i'd post this here rather than in the pregnancy forum as people on here might have more insight...
    I'm currently 6 months pregnant. My midwife says that by law my employers are supposed to have done a risk assessment (but haven't, I live in hope). My hours and duties are now actually more than before I was pregnant and last week I was asked to take on an extra class (I say asked...more like given). Each week I have to run two clubs until 6pm and do one late duty until 7pm. I work Saturday mornings and this term I also have two Saturday afternoon duties until 6pm and one Sunday duty from 9am -5pm.
    My worry is that I am going to burn out if I keep working at the level that I currently am. I LOVE my job and the teaching side is not a problem - it's the extra duties which are leaving me drained and feeling ill. My employers know that I have been rather ill in this pregnancy with severe pelvic and back issues and morning sickness which is still going on now. I'm on crutches because of my pelvis and have occassionally had to miss morning assemblies to stay in the staff loos due to the sickness. I've tried talking to them but in all honesty the HT scares the hell out of me and in my hormonal state I just don't stand up for myself enough.
    Legally can I ask to have lesser duties until I give birth? I am still teaching all of my lessons and they are fine -it's the extra long hours that are the killer here. I have a high risk pregnancy so I really do need to take care of myself!
  2. apologies for the baby brain and the bad spellings.... it's INDEPENDENT not independant!
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Firstly - HUGE congratulations on that baby-to-be!
    It's always great to hear this sort of thing.
    Secondly, here's an extract from the Direct Gov website:
    <h3>Health and safety for pregnant employees</h3>Some workplace hazards can affect pregnancy at a very early stage or even before conception, so employers must think of the health of women of child bearing age, not just wait until you tell your employer that you're pregnant.
    Your employer, as part of their normal risk assessment, must consider if any work is likely to present a particular risk to women of child bearing age. You should tell your employer that you are pregnant as early as possible so that they can identify if any further actions are needed.
    <h4>Risk assessment</h4>When you tell your employer that you are pregnant your employer should review their risk assessment for your specific work and identify any changes that are necessary to protect you and your unborn baby's health. Your employer should involve you in the process and continue to review the assessment as your pregnancy progresses to see if any adjustments are necessary.
    These risks might be caused by:
    • lifting or carrying heavy loads
    • standing or sitting for long periods
    • exposure to toxic substances
    • long working hours
    Your employer must then either remove the risk or remove you from being exposed to it (for example, by offering you suitable alternative work). If neither of these is possible, your employer should suspend you from work on full pay.
    <ul class="subLinks">[*]Suspension from work on medical/health and safety grounds (employment section)[/LIST]<ul class="subLinks">[*]Employers' health and safety responsibilities (employment section)[/LIST]<ul class="subLinks">[*]Health and Safety Executive guidance for new and expectant mothers Opens new window[/LIST]<h4>If you think you are at risk</h4>If you think you are at risk, but your employer doesn't agree, you should first talk to your health and safety representative or a trade union official. You can also go directly to your employer to explain your concerns. If your employer still refuses to take action, you should talk to your doctor or call the Health and Safety Executive helpline on 0845 345 0055 (8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday).
    <ul class="subLinks">[*]How to resolve a problem at work (employment section)[/LIST]<h4>Now I suggest that you go to see the Bursar or School Business Manager and say that you are a bit worried. Say that you are being stressed and frankly unwell by the extra duties, that your health is being undermined by the extra burdens on you. Say that you have an appointment to see your Dr this week, and you know from what other people have told you that she/he is likely to ask you about the school's Risk Assessment, and you don't want there to be any problems for the school because they haven't done one, so could one be done before you go to see the Dr? And don't forget that YOU are supposed to be involved in it, and make sure that you say everything that you need.</h4>(That Bold came unwanted and I cannot get rid of it. Sorry)
    If you can't face saying this in person, write it in an e-mail, send it to Bursar, copy to Bursar's secretary or admin or whoever.
    You will of course get the Dr Appointment because you mustn't lie. And make sure that you tell the Dr the situation.
    Personally I think that they are absolkutely MAD not to be taking better care of you. Crutches, vomiting, walking around looking like something the cat brought up, I bet!
    You need to think of your health and the baby's health. Start planning that meeting or write that letter now.
    Best wishes.
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
  4. Thanks Theo, I suspected that they may be doing more but (as with most people in this profession) unless your leg has dropped off you feel like you have no excuse to do less!
    I've got a meeting with the HT next week although I have no idea what it's about - the HT called it and I think it may be about my maternity leave (I gave official notice of my dates last week) but I am hoping we can discuss the risk assessment too. Absolutely terrified about the meeting and so i'm hoping i'll have the guts to be honest with my HT and say how i've been feeling. They know how ill i've been (had 3 weeks off when sickness so too bad and I became dehydrated and also a week off when pelvis was so bad I couldn't move) but they have just had a member of our support staff go on maternity leave but she was perfectly healthy throughout so I think they are expecting everyone to be the same!
    Our school is tiny and so we don't have a bursar or any of the like so everything goes directly through the Head so sdaly I have to talk directly to the HT -even though i'm scared!!! Funnily enough - I was thinking I might say that about the Dr!
    I'm guessing 'long working hours' can mean long days until 6/7pm and me working weekends too? Next week I have a 12 day week non stop, no days off, as I have weekend duties too - it's going to kill me if i'm not careful! So can I request that I am taken off these while pregnant?
  5. LadyPsyche

    LadyPsyche Occasional commenter

    Congratulations on the impending arrival! You have all my sympathy - with both my pregnancies I had a week of backache in the first trimester that left me bedridden. I can't really add any more to the advice above, but I thought it might just raise a smile if I told you what my school did towards accommodating my needs. After my week off, I was signed back on by the doctor, and returned to school to find they'd taken a large armchair from the boarders' common room, and placed it in my classroom, so I could teach from it!

    Actually, once I got over the initial disbelief, I found it worked well - gave me a 3rd position - standing, sitting and lounging! I moved schools before the next baby!

    I hope it gets sorted, and that the last stretch of your pregnancy goes without any hitches. Good luck!
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    A 12 day week non stop is totally unacceptable. You CANNOT do this.Tell yr Dr
    You might like to write to the Head BEFORE your meeting, so that (a) you ensure you get all your points across - easy to forget if flustered (b) you can put them without feeling face-to-face embarassed.
    Then when you have the meeting, come with 2 copies (in case he hasn't got a print out there) and just go through them.
    Best wishes.
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
  7. Thanks again Theo.
    I didn't go in today, just completely broke down last night - crying non stop and feeling unable to cope.
    Off to see doctors later but really can't afford to be signed off as I haven't worked at my school for long enough so won't get any sick pay [​IMG]
    The crazy thing is, if I felt like I was getting more support then i'd feel so much better and not feel so helpless and low but having to power on with the long days and extra duties is whats actually making me feel ill in the first place!
  8. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Oh dear, poor thing!
    They haven't helped you and they haven't helped themselves, have they?
    But you are entitled to statutory sick pay, of course.
    Best wishes
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
  9. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Not much wisdom to offer but just wanted to say really sorry for everything you're going through. Theo offers really good advice, and I would really urge you to take it and put it all down in writing - perhaps someone can help you word it? Your baby really deserves a happy and balanced mum and that's not the way you're going at the moment, so take all the time you need and put yourself first for once.
    Big hug [​IMG] I hope things get better soon.

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