Falling pregnant is such monumental moment in any woman’s life, whether it was planned or not. As soon as I fell pregnant, I was catapulted into a world of the unknown. In addition, if you are unlucky, pregnancy can have some cruel side effects, which can mean performing in your daily role can be challenging. For me, this is how my company supported me, and how it helped:
- A Manager who understands
- A HR team who can provide information
- A KIT (Keeping in Touch) process that’s adaptable
- A return which helps balance work and family life
- Retraining and additional support
A Manager who understands
I informed my manager a little earlier than the usual 12 week mark (although you can inform work later than this!). My manager was supportive and understanding from the day he knew. He respected that my capabilities on some days may be different. He appreciated that I had a desire to progress with my career before and after the baby arrived. Having a manager who knows what is happening allows them to flex the demands of the job, to match with you what is and isn’t feasible. I must say as well, on the days I had horrific morning sickness or had a scare in the office, he was there and made me feel like; I could take time to focus on my pregnancy without impacting my position/progression here.
A HR team who can provide information
I had so many questions as soon as I found out I was pregnant. How does the whole process work? How and when do I start my maternity leave? How does my annual leave work with maternity? How much will I get paid? When do I get paid? Do I still pay my pension contributions? Am I entitled to apply for jobs whilst I’m on annual leave?
Firstly, I was a needy pregnant woman who wanted to plan and organise everything as soon as I could. Thankfully, the HR team understood this. My HR team set up a meeting relatively quickly to answer my questions and, also to map out what happens and what involvement I had. I cannot express the importance of understanding how the process works. Secondly, I needed to know that I couldn’t have all the information I demanded that second!. I was enlightened as to how much was within my control, it allowed me to design my maternity leave.
A KIT process that’s adaptable
When the time came to returning to work, I can say I was more than apprehensive. Although thankfully I had been in touch with my manager and peers throughout my maternity leave, this did not elevate the stress I felt in returning. Pepper UK were keen to ensure KIT days I had available were suitable to my needs. They were incredibly flexible on whether I took advantage of this option or not. Despite my trepidation, I did take part in the KIT days. My manager and HR were flexible with the dates and times I came into work. Utilising the KIT days before my full return to work allowed me to get back into the business and learn to balance work with a new baby. It also made me realise I had more separation anxiety than my child!
A return which helps balance work and family life
Pepper UK communicate through our values how they keep it ‘real’ and how we ‘balance’ our approach, but flexible working I thought would be different. I wasn’t quite expecting my approach to a flexible working pattern to be accepted. My partners shifts meant that each working week can be different. However, with my manager and HR we managed to agree a flexible approach that would enable me to be an effective manager, and a present mother. I can put my child to bed every night (despite the commute) and I get an additional day with her each week. Having the opportunity to make a career for myself and being a good mother, is a great feeling.
Retraining and additional support
On my return my manager and HR team separately met with me to run through key business changes and important information I should be aware of. In a very short period of time I was brought up to speed with the year that I had missed. In addition, I received re-training, which was greatly appreciated and crucial for my confidence in undertaking my role and getting back to what it was, before I had left. I was also given extended deadlines, to allow additional time where required.
Overall Pepper UK supported me well from the beginning and through to today. I am just as committed to my career here, more so knowing my employer supports my work life balance and progression.
Arrears and Litigation Manager - Pepper UK