There should be a 9-month qualifying period for mat/pat leave.

(172 Posts)
garlicgrump Mon 20-May-13 17:14:44

A few recent threads have made me think about this. I think it's hopelessly wrong that a woman can get a new job while knowing she's pregnant, then bugger off for a year's mat leave. AIBU?

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 01:08:33

Well, Doc, I gave up on reaching a firm position about halfway through the thread! Trouble with AIBU, hardly anybody reads the other posts; even the OP's own. Oh well.

I tend to feel that pregnant people who are just starting in jobs should probably be prepared to quit after/during parental leave. I still think they should get the pay they do now. Different employers would have improved policies, as they do now, and I'm sure most would be amenable to negotiation of some sort.

I can see this isn't ideal. As I also posted upthread, I have disabilities and am not protected to anything like the same extent. I realise pregnancy isn't a disability! But I recognise the reasons why I don't have that level of protection, and I'm not sure this particular concession to pregnancy is advantageous to women, in particular.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 26-May-13 09:06:39

Garlic, I did read all your posts and have just reread them all to make sure. But without an indication of what policy change you might be looking for, it is a bit hard to discuss further. So thanks for saying.

Do you see the point that, since it is only women who can get pregnant, provisions for pregnant women are not "advantageous for women", they are simply trying to level the playing field by providing protections for this natural disadvantage?

As women can be TTC for months or years, reductions in protections would make it less likely that a woman can advance her career by changing jobs etc if the protections diminish. Again, the protections are preventing disadvantage.

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 13:38:12

Sorry, Doc, my last post unintentionally seemed a bit stroppy. Yes, of course I see your points. I don't actually know what would be the best solution. Currently, I have some sympathy for employers who covertly discriminate against women of childbearing age because they have the right to go off on parental leave within months of starting a job.

It's an especially vexed question because all women aged under 50 are assumed to be of "childbearing age", therefore it becomes a matter of sex discrimination. Nonetheless, the current regulations do more than level the playing field. There's no other circumstance in which an employee can take a year off work, at short notice, and have their employment held open for them. It is quite a big ask of employers. It is certainly miles beyond what's available to other "naturally disadvantaged" employees.

The whole issue of childbirth & employment is complicated. It should really be addressed by massive forced restructures of working practices, imo, but for the moment I'm just looking at this little bit of the problem.

I don't know whether modifying the rules to re-instate a qualifying period would make a difference to the perceived employability of women. I assume this was evaluated before changing the law, so probably not. My post was prompted by a flurry of threads on Mumsnet, in which posters had started jobs while pregnant and seemed (to me) overly indignant that not everyone thought their right to continuous employment should trump their responsibility to their employers.

Under the current law a pregnant woman can, effectively, get a job nearly two years before she wants it, as insurance in case she wants to return to work post-baby. I can see why that might piss employers off!

You asked what policy change I might be looking for. I was looking for a discussion, really, not a policy change ... The idea I brought to this thread was that a qualifying period of 9 months would help to assure employers the women they hire are in it for the job, not as a pregnancy strategy. I still think people should get their money, just not the immediate future-proof guarantee.

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 13:38:34

Blimey, I'm sure I could have made that shorter! Sorry.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 26-May-13 14:41:39

Ok smile but honestly I think the statutory allowance is has to be the same for all. There aren't any other statutory rights that depend on length of service eg minimum holiday allowances, though employers can offer enhancements for longer service.

So if you were arguing that length of maternity leave should be less than a year for all, fine, but it doesn't make sense to vary the statute for some not others.

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 15:14:35

It's an interesting idea to model parental leave on holiday leave entitlements. Thanks for that! I just checked holiday rights on Acas. The conditions about leave accrual and notice could be useful. Obviously the length of time off would have to be much more for parental leave, but making the time proportional to length of service could work perhaps. I also see that statutory holiday notice is twice the time wanted on leave - if you translated this directly to parental leave, you'd be looking at two years' notice grin

Something on those lines might look more reasonable than blanket entitlement, though?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 26-May-13 15:43:20

Garlic, to be clear, I wasn't suggesting modelling maternity leave on holiday allowance, just noting that many employment rights have a legal minimum regardless of length of service.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 26-May-13 15:46:15

Where does the nearly two years come from? If a woman gets pregnant on day one of a new job, she will work for 7-8 months before having up to a year off, and it may well be less because of the lower pay.

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 16:03:09

YY, I said "a pregnant woman can, effectively, get a job nearly two years before she wants it, as insurance ..." 8 + 12 months = 20 months.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 26-May-13 16:23:54

But it's not "as insurance" because she is actually doing the job for 8 months!

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 16:34:01

Yes, and then not doing it for 12!

Iggi101 Sun 26-May-13 16:44:38

So 8 months of working in the post does not count as time when you're actually 'wanting it'? You aren't making much sense I'm afraid.
As far as other disadvantaged groups go, surely the point is that any female (gay, disabled, BME) can still be further disadvantaged by pg and maternity. It isn't about disabled women v. pregnant women.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 26-May-13 16:59:47

For up to 12. But it's still not nearly two years.

Lollydaydream Sun 26-May-13 17:29:17

'There's no other circumstance in which an employee can take a year off work, at short notice, and have their employment held open for them.'
Is childbirth, and childrearing not a fairly unique set of circumstances? (albeit universal) This isn't just about employers and employees needs this is about very young infants needs and the leave provisions at the moment recognise that young infants need their mothers (alter to parent if you prefer) and if society wants women to bear children, care for them in infancy and have a chance to recover from birth then it can at least guarantee them a return to their job (or similar role as I believe it is phrased).

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 19:34:31

I know. It's tricky confused

maddening Sun 26-May-13 20:12:56

And also after maternity leave the woman is able to do her job again - if you are never going to be able to do your job again then the employer/employee relationship cannot be expected to continue.

I do think that pregnancy and related laws are not comparable to disability laws.

maddening Sun 26-May-13 20:19:36

And the law being deficiant in one area doesn't mean it should be eroded in another.

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 20:47:09

Honestly, I don't know. I see all sides of the argument. Why should the leave entitlement not be proportional to length of service?

I don't fully buy into the "What if you get made redundant while TTC" or "What if you didn't know you were pregnant" style arguments. We've fought long and hard for control of our fertility. It is imperfect, but so is life: you can't always choose when you get pregnant, as you can't always choose when other big life events happen. The majority, though, do have control and laws are made for the majority.

Why is it so wrong to say "If you were TTC when you joined, and got lucky in your first month here, congratulations and we'll hold your job for 3 months (say)"? Is it really bad to suggest people sometimes need to take responsibility for balancing their priorities?

The questions would be different if we were frantically trying to repopulate the country. But we aren't.

Iggi101 Sun 26-May-13 21:00:38

You ask why leave could not be proportional to length of service. Maybe the length of leave is for the baby, who has no control over employment. If I had 3 months off only, I could not possibly have ebf my baby till 6 months.
One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage; but as you're only concerned about the 'majority' something affecting 20% presumably won't interest you hmm

garlicgrump Sun 26-May-13 22:49:10

I could not possibly have ebf my baby till 6 months

What did people do before maternity entitlements were this good? What do Americans do?

I don't see how miscarriages impact on the discussion. (Not still births or premmies, there are special provisions for them.)

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 26-May-13 23:02:16

Garlic, employers are allowed to provide enhanced maternity pay based on length of service if they want.

There was a BBC article several years ago saying 40% of pregnancies were unplanned.

Finally, it still goes back to the point that women are put at a disadvantage by being the child bearers and so the law is simply trying to level the playing field. A woman who is TTC will already be influenced by the SMP entitlement and/or any enhanced maternity pay to stay put whilst TTC rather than look for a new job. This already means she is at a disadvantage compared to a man TTC (though less so now perhaps with shared leave) who may feel free to look for new jobs throughout.

Iggi101 Mon 27-May-13 09:41:09

Our government, through the NHS, recommend ebf till 6 months, so it would be at counter purposes to this is maternity provision did not all ow for this for those who want to Different countries have very variable laws; I've no interest in copying ones with worse records than ourselves.

Can you seriously not see how mc impacts on a discussion of supposedly entitled women taking on new jobs whilst pregnant? My life was made hard enough by my rmcs without having to postpone applying for new jobs indefinitely while they were happening. You have a rosy view of how controllable fertility actually is.

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