Annie Ridout on her first experience of pregnancy discrimination…
In 2014, I was due to give birth to my first baby.
I went into the Farringdon office I was working in as a copywriter and asked how maternity leave/pay would work.
You see, I was a contractor.
So essentially, self-employed.
But I was there full-time, had my own desk, a work computer and contributed like an employee.
Really, I should have been on PAYE.
I thought it wouldn’t matter though, as they’d treat me like staff in the same way they did at work.
Only, I was wrong.
The HR manager told me, awkwardly, that there would be no leave or pay.
That as soon as I stopped working, my contract will be terminated and that would be it.
She was trying to say it with conviction, and I now know that’s because she didn’t want me to cause trouble.
And so after trying to explain why this was so unfair, I left that room and cried.
It was my first experience of pregnancy discrimination.
It was the first time I’d been treated unfairly because I was becoming a mother.
What I didn’t know at that point was that I’d go on to experience it in different guises over the next few years.
What I also didn’t know is that I only had three months to make a claim against them.
You can’t terminate a contract because of pregnancy.
But as it was, I was pregnant, panicked about money, worried about what I would do work and stayed quiet.
I asked my line manager if I could come back after just three months, if that would mean they keep my job open.
He said: women often say things like that but it’s different once the baby is actually there.
I felt patronised.
But he was right: it was different.
I explain what happened next in this post.