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Starting new position pregnant

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by misspt92, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. misspt92

    misspt92 New commenter

    Back in May, I accepted a fantastic position as Head of Department at a school closer to my fiancé's workplace. I am only in my second year of teaching, so a HoD role was more than I ever bargained for at this stage. However, I recently discovered that I am 15 weeks pregnant. We're delighted, but it was a LOT earlier than planned (say 5 years early!). I only found out around the 12 week mark and everything has all been geared towards the baby since then.

    I'm feeling really anxious about telling the HT. It's a small independent school and so I'm not sure if the legislation applies to them. I had lots of contractual problems with my previous school who had a very similar setup.

    Should I tell the school sooner rather than later, or wait until I start in September? I haven't signed a contract yet, however I have formally accepted the job offer in writing and completed medical health assessment (long before knowing about pregnancy). I anticipate that they will be disappointed given the timing of it all and I feel like an irresponsible teenager!

    My first question is, how do I go about telling the school? Organise a meeting or call? My second question is, when do I tell them given that I haven't signed a contract?

    Thank you so much in advance!
  2. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I'd join a union (or check your subscription is up to date). Then think about your other questions...I have to say I've never considered this, but my gut feeling is tell them when you have signed your contract. (But maybe your Union can advise?)
    thekillers1, agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Congratulations on your news about your baby.

    You need professional advice so please ring your union and explain all the details as explained in your post.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. misspt92

    misspt92 New commenter

    You and @FrankWolley are right - I should get in touch with my union. I suppose that I'm naive in thinking from a personal point of view rather than professional; I fear that my union will advise me that I can tell school up to 26 weeks which is the legal deadline. But that just seems so late and unfair to throw upon them. Even the first week of September seems too late when they'll have to figure out my replacement for spring term. My gut instinct is that people are generally more forgiving if you are honest and take their circumstance into consideration.

    Thank you both for your advice. I'll call my union today.
  5. bishbashbosh3

    bishbashbosh3 New commenter

    Congratulations on your new position. You are clearly an excellent teacher, so they should happy to keep you either way.

    As Frank Wolley said, speak to a union if you can, or citizens advice if not (or any legal advice cover that might be bundled with a bank account, house insurance etc).

    My understanding is that
    a) accepting the written job offer is legally binding with or without the contract
    b) equality legislation applies to every employer (except the church, in some respects). In Norway no one would even think twice about the idea that you might have to start maternity on arrival in a job, let alone after a few months.
    c) it's a bit strange to have no contract after 3 months anyway, isn't it?

    Depending on the advice, I would arrange a meeting with either the HT or the head of HR at the soonest opportunity. Be honest, open and up-front. That's the opposite of what an irresponsible teenager would do!
  6. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    It happens. Tell the school as soon as, so they can plan for your absence. PS if as soon as means after signing contract because you are worried about not actually being taken on trend so be it. I’m not an expert but the verbal acceptance is a contract? And they will be in sticky doo dah if they discriminate against you. Others will know more.
    agathamorse, FrankWolley and pepper5 like this.
  7. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I agree with you about being honest & up front wherever possible, but as it is a new job you don't know the people there (nor they you) and you don't have any credit 'in the bank' as it were.

    Providing the school know in time to get a maternity cover teacher, then I'd say that should be fine. FWIW I did a number of maternity covers, and usually the adverts went out in October/November for January etc.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I like your thinking.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes, I agree that you should be honest with the school and take into account their position/needs, but you must also consider your needs as well. Get the advice you need from your union and sit down and think about all the options and then decide.

    Being pregnant isn't forever and the school has plenty of time to organise maternity cover.

    It will all work out.
    tall tales, Lalad and agathamorse like this.
  10. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Legislation on pregnancy discrimination applies to just about any employer - it is legislation about discrimination, not about schools. I am not sure why you need to contact your union at this stage (although you should already be a member of one). I would just get on and tell the school and see what happens. As soon as they know you are pregnant, your rights kick in, so I see no reason for delaying. If the school's reaction makes you feel uneasy, then that is the time to get your union involved. But I doubt if it will - I hope not.
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    No, contracts don't have to appear for something like 2-3 months after the job starts. The OP doesn't start work until September.

    To the OP, your situation isn't unique, it happens more often than you think.
    Just tell them when you next get a reasonable chance...emailing in the summer holidays isn't necessary. Let them know with apologies for the hassle (no, you don't need to, but it helps soften the blow) and maybe some indication of your plans, though you can change them later.

    If the head is a right so and so about it, then make plans not to return after maternity leave!
    If they are fantastic, then find a great nursery and go back.
    Best of luck!
  12. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    My experience of the world outside schools is that it is indeed a bit strange. Every job offer I ever received, plus the one my daughter received for her first job last month, included a copy of the contract, which I was expected to read before accepting. But schools seem to inhabit an alternative reality! And not having signed a contract makes no real difference to the legal position - they can't do anything against you for being pregnant.
  13. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I think you're honest and tell the school straightaway you'll be fine.

    Yes - they will have to find someone else for a period of time and they may not initially be too thrilled but you have to tell them.

    Hopefully you won't do what one of the DT teachers did at my last school - she had three maternity leaves in a very short period of time and then didn't come back after the third one.
  14. MineField

    MineField New commenter

    I wouldn't bother telling them until after you start in September. Whenever I've been pregnant, I've always told them straight away, but they never bother sorting out cover until a few weeks before I'm due to go off. I've seen the same happen with loads of pregnant employees in various schools - it's the same everywhere.

    As another PP said, they won't sort anything out before about November anyway.
    pepper5 likes this.
  15. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    You do need to tell them for a risk assessment whilst at the school. If your office/room is on a top floor, they may move you downstairs for example. HTs tend to be more understanding then given credit for in these situations.

  16. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    You are worried about being unfair to the school but at the same time please don't be unfair to yourself. You don't have to tell them until the legal deadline and that mIght be a better option for you.

    As @pepper5 has said: it will all work out.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  17. usernameIcanremember

    usernameIcanremember New commenter

    Congratulations on being pregnant! In terms of the school this might be a blessing. If they aren't helpful and supportive you know what they are really like and can plan to move on. You'll need a supportive school when you go back after the baby is born so it's good to know now what the management are really like. If you're already a HOD then you must be pretty good. I would be very surprised at any employed in the UK (you're in the UK right?) not being supportive. Even without union involvement they could get into a world of trouble if they don't do everything to support you. Best of luck with it all.
  18. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Congratulations on this news! You are probably best to seek union advice before approaching the school but I thought I would give you my perspective as an HT.

    Once you have consulted your union, you need to approach your HT and ask for a meeting as soon as possible and inform them. This enables them to conduct any such risk assessments that apply to pregnant women. I’m assuming that you’ll be commencing maternity leave from Christmas or just before the end of term- the school will need to recruit a temporary teacher to cover you as well as preparing for an existing colleague- 2i/c- to step up as the HoD in your absence.

    Whatever, anyone may think, your new school cannot dismiss you on the grounds of your pregnancy- they would probably be annoyed that one of their new recruits will be there for a term, then off for a year, but, such is life, you aren’t the only one, and you won’t be the only one in the future. It’s life, HT’s will/ should understand that there will be times when female colleagues will be awau for up to a year on maternity.

    All the best!
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    All the OP is doing is telling the school they are pregnant and will be leaving for maternity leave on X December 2018.
    Why the need for a union?
  20. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    Ooh, yes, forgot to,say congratulations! Exciting times! The best of times! Focus on those feelings!
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.

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